10 Steps to Responsible Travel
Ethical, Sustainable, Responsible…
As travellers search for authentic experiences off the beaten track, hitherto unspoilt places are being exposed to visitors from foreign cultures, different social and economic backgrounds and varied ethical standpoints. Sometimes that exposure can be mutually beneficial… sometimes it can be damaging. Here’s our guide to minimising the impact you have on the countries and communities you visit: 10 ways to be a responsible traveller.
1. Book with a reputable operator
Before you book with an agent, ask to see its responsible tourism policy – every reputable travel operator should have one. Check out their credentials. Do they have their own guidelines for guests? Ask lots of questions – if they care about ethical travel, they will be more than happy to answer them.
2. Buy local
Try to buy locally made goods while you are away, rather than imports. Support the local economy and buy your souvenirs and fresh food from the people who produced them. Make sure you aren't buying anything made from endangered species, unsustainable hardwoods or pilfered ancient artefacts.
3. Respect local customs
The important word here is respect. Read up about the customs and traditions of your destination before you go and be prepared. Behave accordingly. Learn a few words of the local language – knowing how to say ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will be appreciated by the communities you visit. Dress appropriately, especially on public transport and in holy places.
4. Don’t litter
Be responsible for your own rubbish. Waste disposal is difficult in remote places, so take it home with you if necessary. One of the main culprits of littering is ‘disposable’ plastic water bottles – over 75% are not recycled but end up in landfill or littering the planet (according to Food & Water Watch). Use a refillable water bottle. We will gladly refill your water bottle from our supplies on most journeys.
5. Be careful with gifts
It is a friendly gesture to offer gifts to the local people you meet on your travels. However, it can also have a negative effect by encouraging a ‘begging’ culture and creating an unequal relationship between tourists and residents. Ask your tour operator for advice on appropriate gifts – we suggest books and pencils.
6. Support local projects
On your return, why not make a donation to a project in the area you visited. There are several organised schemes which benefit communities and the environmental projects across the globe – check out Travel Pledge.
7. Hire local guides
If you are travelling independently, hire local guides. At Panoramic Journeys we only hire local people with local knowledge on the ground. Not only does it provide them with an income, it also fosters pride in the community. You will discover far more about the place you are visiting and make meaningful connections.
8. Travel kindly
Cut carbon emissions and travel overland when you can. Use the local public transport system or hire a bike, perhaps walk when safe and convenient. It is a much more ‘authentic’ way to travel and you get to meet local people on your way while being kinder to the environment.
9. Visit sites of national importance
Support your host country’s efforts to preserve and maintain their natural and cultural heritage by visiting sites that focus on conservation and education. Be open. Soak it up. Learn. Then go home and tell other people about it. Spread the word. Keep it alive.
10. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.