Travel and tourism industry is one of the most significant contributors to the global economy with a record of 2.9 trillion USD in 2019, and it is only here to grow. With every travel enthusiast seeking to hop on their next big adventure right from swimming with sharks in South Africa to trekking the highest points of Himalaya, the wander bug-bitten heart yearns for more and more. As they say, everything comes with a price. But who pays the price in case of travel? The answer is, we all do!
Before I jump on how to be a responsible traveller, I am going to take this space to further explain what I mean by responsible travel.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER?
A responsible traveller is someone mindful of the effects of his/her travels on the destination – both positive and negative effects. Now a responsible holiday is no different from your usual holiday. It gives you the thrill, adventure, rest and rejuvenation – and everything else you seek from your travel plans. Along with the contentment that your intentions have had a minimal ill effect on the world It also doesn’t require you to make drastic changes, or the need to change the way you planned to experience the country. If anything, it enriches your experience and also gives back to the world.
5 INCREDIBLY EASY WAYS TO BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER
MINIMISE YOUR WASTE
In today’s world, we consume mindlessly and waste even more! Most of your travel waste can be minimised by merely packing green (see point 1). If you use the hotel toiletries, you will end up wasting a ton of tiny plastic bottles. In most cases, they aren’t reused! Carry your own toiletries instead of using the ones available in the hotel. In all cost avoid buying shampoo/soap pouches, these items are never recycled and end up polluting our ocean. When travelling I never take-out, for starters, the best way to experience a country is to eat local! Take in the entire experience by eating out! And, this creates one less plastic container in the ocean bed.
BE RESPECTABLE TO ANIMALS
Not just when you travel, but you should be respectable to animals every single day! It saddens me to see how animals have been used as a form of entertainment. This has only increased as the travel industry booms! Almost every country has exploited animals and continue to use them as a tourist trap. The tiger temple in Thailand, swimming with the whale sharks in the Philippines, riding elephants in India and the Luwak coffee in Indonesia. These are only a few activities, but the world is filled with so many more! Always do your research well before throwing money at such inhumane acts.
Most of us seldom look beyond the famous hotel chains. But with just a little bit of research, you will find there are a bunch of other accommodation options. And in most case, they provide a far enriching experience than your average hotel chain. When booking your next vacation, look for a homestay or bed and breakfast, this way you will pay the local community instead of funding the ultra-rich hotel chains. Moreover, homestay is such a beautiful experience; they let you in their homes and trust you as their own! You won’t be able to see a destination as wholly as this. Staying at such accommodation will indirectly benefit the community. Now isn’t that a great bargain? You get an enriching experience and also give back to the community!
Just like staying with the local community is an enriching experience, so in eating local food. In my opinion, one has never truly experienced a foreign land until he/she has tried local food. Also, western food is in most cases, either fast food or expensive or both! Now, why would you want to pay extra for something that is unhealthy? Also, if you are someone who carries their own food, eating local will lighten your luggage and even brighten your experience – take my word for it! By eating local food, you will help fund the locals and indirectly give them an avenue to earn an extra income.
This is my second favourite way of being a responsible traveller. First being – eat local. The reason it is my favourite is that it pushed me to look beyond the airport souvenir stores! And oh boy, I have found some gems of a souvenir. Look for locally owned crafts shop for some unique gift ideas. After all, why would you take home the same old, always made in china, a souvenir that everyone else is! I generally visit local flea markets, art and craft shops to find these gems. The front desk of the hostel or your host from the homestay is the best place to find these shops. Just by doing this, you will cut down on your carbon footprint, support the local economy and have a positive impact on the planet.
BONUS TIP: EDUCATE OTHERS!
This the most underrated and yet the most important of them all! Once you are aware that your actions have consequences -both positive and negative. You start taking decision mindfully, but it shouldn’t stop there. Now the onus is on you to share your learning and tips to the rest of the world. We all be a responsible traveller one traveller at a time! You can start by sharing this easy guide on how to be a responsible traveller.
Let’s all of us pledge, to be travel more responsibility starting now. Happy Travelling!