I have been travelling/traveling for over seven years now and I’m pretty confident that everything I did never directly reduced the population of (or caused harm) to a living thing. I am now SLOWLY and firmly moving to a more sustainable lifestyle. A big part of my life involves travelling and so I wanted to know how to be a responsible tourist.
With the help of a few travel books, online resources and some amazing responsible travel influencers; I came up with my list of things I’ll be keeping an eye on in order to travel responsibly.
Responsible Tourism according to me is the ability to travel more sustainably and consciously by making clear decisions not to take part in any travel activity that involves harming the environment and its habitat. Tourism is the act of travelling for business or leisure and it can be domestic or international. It can include transportation, entertainment, accommodations, meals, and shopping during your travels.
Here is how we can start travelling responsibly:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK (RESEARCH)
Research! research! I couldn’t say this enough times. With the abundance of information we’ve been blessed with, this should be a breeze. Take your time to find out more about the accommodations. Find out who owns the hotel you’re booking. If you choose a hotel that is locally owned, there is a chance that a big portion of the profits made will stay in the community which serves well for the locals. Choose a place that prides in high environmental standard levels.
Pick your souvenirs wisely
Buy something that is truly local and not imported. Don’t buy souvenirs made from animal products like bone, fur, or crocodile skin. The demand for these products supports wildlife crime and illegal trade.
MINIMISE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
More than 50% of tourism’s CO2 emissions are down to transport, explore places on foot and use the affordable public buses/trains/bikes. You can calculate your carbon footprint by using The Nature Conservancy calculator. “Lowering individual carbon footprints from 16 tons to 2 tons doesn’t happen overnight! By making small changes to our actions, like eating less meat, taking less connecting flights and line drying our clothes, we can start making a big difference.” – The Nature Conservancy.
DON’T SUPPORT TRAVEL ACTIVITIES THAT INVOLVE ANIMAL CRUELTY.
Avoid Dolphinariums, Circus, Tiger Selfies, Wild hunting, Whale watching, Elephant riding, among others. My reason for avoiding these activities is because the poor animals have been through an awful process in order to master the tricks. Read my post about Dolphins on The truth behind the deceptive dolphin smile. Animals used for such animal tourism activities are usually taken from their family drugged, mistreated, chained and sometimes mutilated just for our few minutes pleasure. Did you know that the workers especially in 3rd world countries take on the high-risk job of working with wild animal on very low pay and many suffering life threatening injuries?
VISIT WILDLIFE IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT.
If you’ve been on a Safari, you know how amazing this experience is. If you’ve never been, you have to go for it. This is an experience that everyone should get. Besides having the time of your life on a Safari, you’ll have contributed to wildlife conservation by buying your park entrance ticket.
TAKE PHOTOS RESPONSIBLY.
Always ask for permission when taking someones pictures. Avoid taking pictures of minors and posting them on social media. What I personally do especially on my instagram (@belindasmetana), is blur out any unknown minors face on my pictures. As a parent, it would hurt to see my kids pictures online taken by a total stranger without my consent. Check the two instagram images below.
EXPLORE NON-POPULAR AREAS
When visiting cities there are stand-out attractions that everyone wants to visit. This causes ‘overtourism’. To help minimise this, visit the hidden gems that are not so popular.
Let’s travel responsibly. It won’t happen overnight and we won’t do it perfectly but if thousands of us decide to make small changes, we will make a huge difference together.