The world of travel is shifting and a lot has changed since the advent times of travelling. Large-group tours are becoming less popular especially amongst today’s millennials, and face-to-face dealings with a tour agent is slowly fading into the background. The internet has taken over if not all, most part of our lives!
The same goes for the way we travel today. Even this is changing. Responsible travel is slowly, but surely making its way into tourism, with many conscious players in the industry buying-in to the Responsible Tourism idea.
Now that we’ve welcomed the New Year, 2019 should definitely be the year where we become more conscious and woke about the impact of our actions, including the way we travel. It’s really not as hard as you think it is. So, what does it take to become a responsible traveller? Having an open mind and an open heart is the first step.
If you’re new to travel and want to do as much good and less harm as possible, here are some simple tips for you:
1. Community Based Tourism
When picking your holiday destination, try opting for a destination that carries out community based tourism (CBT) for a change. Often located outside the city and run by the locals themselves, CBT sometimes involves homestays and other types of accommodations, and are normally tied in with cultural activities and tours. Participating in a community based tour gives you a chance to really immerse in the local culture whilst giving back to the community.
Today, activities that involve exploiting wildlife is still on the rise. This includes elephant riding and wildlife selfies. Not many people are conscious about the harm that these activities have on the animals and don’t realise that there are just some things that aren’t worth “the Gram”. So before you participate in any activities that involve animals, read up on the activities first and don’t support any that exploits them. If you truly love animals and want to experience seeing them, try going on wildlife safaris that are operated responsibly.
3. Sustainable Tour Operators and Accommodations
If you want to plan your holiday without the hassle and still contribute less or no harm to the environment, seek out a tour operator and accommodations that operate or practice sustainability. Read up on the organisation and accommodations before booking with them. Sometimes, it’s the simple decisions that make the biggest impact.
4. Buy From Locals
If you love shopping or want to buy souvenirs to bring back for loved ones, buy from the locals themselves. At least by supporting their small handicraft or food business, you know where your money goes to, which is right back to the community. It is also a way of reducing your carbon footprint, and in turn benefiting not only the local community but also the environment.
5. Stop Printing
A super easy step that you can start with is actually reducing the printing or eliminating it altogether. Instead of printing your boarding pass, travel itineraries, booking details etc, why not opt to just download them onto your device such as your mobile phone? Many companies, including airports nowadays only require you to scan your details. You don’t only save baggage space this way, you save the trees as well!
6. Learn the Local Language
Learning a new language can be pretty daunting but it’s really worth it to learn a few local words especially when you’re travelling to a foreign country. The locals always appreciate it when you communicate with them in their tongue, even if it’s not perfect.
7. Respect Other’s Culture
If you’re travelling to a foreign place, it’s best to do your homework about the country and their customs beforehand. Find out the do’s and don’ts of the destination of your choice. Take note that some countries are very conservative, so respect their customs even if they vary from your own back home.
8. Getting Around
Getting from point A to point B requires planning and taking into account your mode of transportation when you travel is important as a responsible traveller. Some places would offer you to rent a bicycle and cycle to get around and there may be places that require you to just walk, which is a much better option. Plus you’ll actually get to see more that way.
9. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle)
When travelling, reduce or eliminate your need to buy bottled water every time you’re out. Instead, bring your own water bottle which you can refill whenever you need to. Most destinations today have places that you can refill your water bottle and for free too. (Check out RefillMyBottle). Today, there are bottles that are suitable to bring along with you during your travels like the foldable water bladder, which you can conveniently bring with you in your luggage!
Just a side note, Borneo Eco Tours is part of the RefillMyBottle movement, and provides water refills for our guests on our vans and coaches.
10. Minimise Waste
Try not to be wasteful when you’re travelling by being mindful about how much you eat and what you consume. Recycle when you can and when shopping, try not to use plastic bags but your own cloth bags or backpack. Of course, this doesn’t only apply to when you’re travelling. It’s a super awesome practice at home too!
11. Educate Others
Once you get the hang of it, talk about responsible travel to your friends and family too. Have a conversation about it. Right now, educating others and bringing about awareness is crucial if we want to make a positive change in the way we travel.