The United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Responsible Tourism, so there’s no better time than now to focus on being eco-friendly on your next trip. These top five responsible travel tips will help you get started.
1. Go local
And do this in as many ways as possible while you travel. Hire local guides and shop in local stores so that you support the communities around you. This practice is imperative for ensuring your travelling is as sustainable as possible, and bringing a positive impact to the local people in the destination you’re visiting.
2. Don’t support animal cruelty
In the last couple of years, many stories have come out about animal cruelty and tourism, such as the Tiger Temple in Thailand and the mistreatment of elephants. While wildlife experiences may be high on your bucket list, these shouldn’t be undertaken at the expense of the animals, whereby they’re drugged or exploited for human gain.
If you want contact with beautiful wildlife as you travel, do so in a way that allows you to see them in the natural habitat, or a space where they are allowed to live as they would do in the wild. Witnessing these creatures is an honour and as humans we should respect the privilege by letting these animals be.
3. Travel closer to home
While we all want to jet away as far from home as possible sometimes, lengthy flights have a huge impact on our planet’s carbon emissions. Instead of the long-hauls, decide to take shorter flights this year to places slightly closer to home. Be mindful of the repercussions your travel have on the planet.
If you are going further away, look into getting around by a green method of transport – either by bike or by foot, for example – instead of driving anywhere. And at the very least, get around via public transport so your being in a different place doesn’t add to transport emissions at all.
4. Leave no trace
This is the golden rule of outdoor adventuring and should be in the forefront of your mind as you’re out in the wild world. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’, and that phrase should certainly apply to your travel this year.
When you’re out on a big hike, make sure you don’t leave any little around or disrupt the natural world around you. Try to be as wasteless as possible with what you buy, making sure you recycle (as you would do at home) whenever possible.
5. Respect other cultures
In the same way we should respect wildlife as we travel, we must also respect other people and their way of life. Whenever you travel you’re a guest in someone else’s country, and you need to make sure you’re aware of their customs and follow them.
If you need to dress modestly, always carry a shawl or something with you to cover up. Some holy places may require you to take your shoes off or cover your head. These are the little things you can do as a traveller to show your respect.
What are your best responsible travel tips?