Holidays are magical! New places, new people, different cultures, lots of pictures, shopping, recreation, relaxation and so much more. No wonder we always come back from a holiday with big stuffed bags and an even bigger bag of wonderful memories. But what do we leave behind? Smiles or fears? Memories of nightmares? You might be surprised but unknowingly we might be contributing in negative to a place’s culture, environment or people in general.
But don’t worry! We can be responsible without compromising on fun! For the responsible traveller, there is what we call as Responsible Tourism. Responsible tourism is combining relaxation, adventure, learning and discovery with respect and benefit for local people and their environment. It’s about making a positive impact on people and environment while travelling.
Here is a small checklist that can help make your trip a responsible one.
1) Fight the Flight:
Let your trip be eco-friendly. Minimize your contribution to Global Warming. Aeroplanes are a big source of carbon emissions, hence they contribute greatly to global warming. Try to reduce your flights. Whenever possible, avoid stop-over flights or use rail or road transport. Use public transport when travelling locally.
(Also see: Flying for the first time…)
2) Green Accommodation:
There are socially responsible and socially irresponsible local businesses. Support the former ones. Awareness has resulted in several eco-friendly or green hotels across the world. Some features of green hotels include recycling of waste, no use of plastic, energy conversation, use of solar power, etc. Choose to stay at green hotels, and do your bit as a responsible tourist. Avoid excessive use of air-conditioners, heaters and other electronic gadgets while at stay.
3) Cultural awareness:
Before beginning the journey, take out some time and read up on the places you intend to visit. Learn more about the culture of all the places. Incorporate local culture in your lifestyle during each visit, thus making sure that you do not affect the sentiments of the local people. For example, PDA is a strict no-no in several countries of the middle-east. Some type of clothing such as shorts or skirts is not permitted at religious places of some destinations. Smoking/drinking at public places is a bad idea in many countries. Don’t rob a place of its cultural heritage. Follow the local traditions and practices, thus harbouring mutual respect. Moreover, the best way to know a place is to be a part of that place.
4) Keep camera in check:
When a visitor clicks photographs, a lot of local people consider it as an invasion to privacy. Ask for permission before you photograph local people, especially at public places like markets. Do not click photographs of slums and poverty. It might be offensive for locals.
5) Buy local produce and products:
You will find all the big brands in your city too. Go for the products made or grown by the locals. This way, you not only get to enjoy the beauty of local, handmade products, you also circulate money in the local economy. Hire a local guide. He/she will give you a much better knowledge of your place of visit than anyone else. In return, you will help in supporting jobs.
6) Be in sync with nature:
Avoid buying products of animal skins, teeth, etc. Don’t destroy flora and fauna anywhere.
Keep travelling! But remember to leave behind positive footprints everywhere! Happy Journey!