How To Be A Responsible Traveler

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With the traveling boom becoming greater day by day where globetrotting has become the new normal, it is important to stop and reflect if we are doing it responsibly. Sure, traveling has a lot of benefits – for us and also for the places that we travel to – but is it possible that we are always leaving a positive footprint each time without fail? Certainly not! It is thus important to be extra cautious when traveling and making sure that we all are being responsible about it.

At VolSol, we passionately believe in responsible travel and vouch for it and encourage it. But then the question arises, how do we become a responsible traveler? Take a look at some of the ways in which you can travel more responsibly.

1. Volunteer while you travel

Whether you are traveling for two weeks or two years, volunteering for a portion of your time with accountable and impactful organizations for worthwhile causes can make a world of difference.

If you have a skill that may be useful in a developing nation, such as medical or social care experience, there are several different opportunities that can be taken up to put your skills to optimum use. 

But even if you are not highly qualified or are a young student, you can still find rewarding ways to volunteer — a practice that’s referred to as “voluntourism” in the travel sphere. It may be possible to spend a few days teaching English in rural schools, for instance, or you can check out different animal conservation projects that are active in the places you are visiting and do your bit for the country and its populace. 

 

2. Remember to Shop Local

shopping at costa rica

When it comes to eating, sleeping, and buying souvenirs, choosing where you spend your money can have a massive impact on the community.

By having dinner at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, staying in a family-run guest house, or purchasing a trinket from a street vendor, you are helping to inject money directly into the local economy. Aside from creating a more authentic travel experience for yourself, you are also contributing to the local economy. So ditch those malls when abroad and head to the real deal – some street shopping. 

 

3. Interact with the wildlife, carefully

olunteering in South East Asia

A lot of people have exotic dreams of riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, or having their photos taken with tigers — but these irresponsible activities often do more harm than good.

If you are really interested in visiting a place that houses and protects animals, make sure you contact one that is a registered NGO. Alternatively, you can always search for a volunteer project dedicated to animal welfare and conservation in the city you are planning to travel to.

 

4. Respect the local culture

Ecuador-Culture

The world and its people are diverse and fascinating, and it is an astonishing feeling to experience the wonder. We must always keep in mind how important it is to show respect to those local customs and traditions when we travel.

Many countries frown upon the so-called immodest dressing or consuming alcohol in public, it’s better to be mindful of those customs and travel accordingly. It’s best to set aside moral judgments when traveling keeping local sentiments and personal safety in mind. 

Also, learning a little bit of the local language goes a long way and it has to be more than just a “hello” and “thank you.” Study what the customs of your location of choice are to ensure that you don’t inadvertently offend anyone.

 

5. Whenever possible, take public transport

take public transport

There are a lot of great ways to lower your environmental impact when you are traveling. Unfortunately for us, travel is an activity that puts a lot of carbon in the atmosphere.

This isn’t to say we should never travel, just that we should be thoughtful about the way in which we travel. The most carbon efficient way to travel (aside from walking or biking) is by using public transport. It could be anything – Bus, Tuk-Tuks, Rickshaws, Trains and so on. Once you’ve done your research about its safety and accessibility, go ahead and use the public transport at any possible time you get. 

Not only is it good for the environment, but also for your health — and your budget.

6. Do not ‘boycott’ countries

Yes, each country has all kinds of people and what is reported in the mainstream media about a certain place may not always be true. Unless life-threatening or legally prohibited, it is recommended to boycott any country based on social perceptions and pop culture understanding. This not only hurts the local economy but robs any window of opportunity for a positive cultural exchange.

 

7. Educate other travelers

women empowerment in Morocco

Kind of a like a ripple effect, being a responsible traveler might come naturally to some, but others may just not be aware of the implications their actions can have when they are abroad. And if that’s the case, it may be on you to show them the way.

If you see someone unintentionally doing something that is inappropriate for the environment, or to the local people and culture, consider mentioning something it to them in a friendly manner. 

Start discussions about responsible travel with people who are in your hostel, in your hotel, or on your tour. It is only through education that we can help spread the word about sustainable tourism.

Our actions, while traveling, can have a huge impact on the environment, which makes it our moral duty to keep a check on them.

Let’s make a positive impact, let’s be responsible travelers!


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