Responsible travel is not just a new trend in travel industry – it’s about attitude and respect to the places we visit. Lately more and more people are paying attention to the environment around in their everyday life. Same you can do while traveling. Natural and cultural resources are precious in every country. Keep in mind that when you are visiting some exotic destination, you are about to enter place that is someone else's home.
Being a responsible traveler means more than just offsetting you carbon emission. Responsible travel is based on the principles of sustainability and requires you to think about the environmental, social and economic dimension of the trip. It means support for community-based traveler’s programs - homestays, guest cottages, ethno-museums and local marketplaces than bring tourist spending directly into communities.
Responsible tourism is about better understanding the places you visit, minimizing your impact to environment and maximizing the benefits to local economics during the trip. Learn more about eco-tourism and responsible travel before visiting different countries. Below you can find ideas how to immerse yourself in other culture whilst traveling abroad and get authentic experience during vacation.
Research alternatives for transportation - is flying the only option to the destination? Of course, for traveling overseas air carriers are providing main transportation. But afterwards, are there any alternatives ways for getting to the destination city? Check out European rail map and schedules. Sometimes land transportation might offer quite good solutions. Try to use public transport if possible.
If you intend to rent a car for your family trip, check out companies that are providing environment friendly cars.
Choose sustainable and responsive travel opportunities - pick adventure travel and eco-tours, participate in biking / hiking / walking /climbing activities as much as possible, get involve in volunteer vacations, find green getaways. Besides, while staying in eco-friendly countryside lodging or family-run small inn outside the big cities you will get off tourist tracks and support business of local community.
Be culturally sensitive - learn more about places you plan to visit. That way you will respect the values, customs and believes of local people. Before a trip read some guidebooks on particular destination, make online research about local traditions, learn some words in local language. The more you will appreciate local culture and traditions, the more meaningful will be whole trip.
Pick places to stay that support sustainable travel - there are many eco-labeled hotels that are participating in responsible travel programs. I like to stay in - its not just good price (with breakfast and free internet included) and service they provide, but more like atmosphere there. It feels good to know, that breakfast is made of organic food or there are many natural materials in design of hotel, but mainly because many of the are Eco-label. It means that hotel has met 150 requirements on function and quality to receive this award.
Small example - in Scandinavia tap water is clear and is good for consumption. Local people know it and they are using it. Despite bottled water is available to buy, guests of some are encouraged to refill bottles with tap water. It tastes good, costs nothing and does not need transportation. Can you do that everywhere? - No. But if particular hotel in particular country encourages me to do that, I will. Because I trust . And this is Scandinavian hotel brand I like a lot for the attitude to the clients.
Give back – involve in volunteer travel program; attend cooking classes with local chefs; buy locally produced goods. These are just basic ideas how to give back to local community.
Of course, during the first time visit to a new travel destination lunch at McDonalds or PizzaHut seems safest place to eat. But try local cafes / restaurant brands (might ask at the hotel / local people for some advice). If locals can eat there, nothing wrong will happen to you as well. Visit local market place - you will find many interesting products there and local people will tell how and why to use them.
Support fair trade - buy hand-crafted goods produced by local artisans.
Challenge yourself - discover life from local perspective. Try to get of beaten tourist track as much as possible. Chat with people around you and try to speak their language. It’s not hard to learn some basic vocabulary for your travel destination but it will open doors to people’s hearts if you’ll try to speak their language.
Often when I'm visiting new place I like to go to cinema or visit some bookstore. In these places you can get a little glimpse of local traditions – see what they read; what are most popular movies or book titles; what kind of accessories are sold here. Check out local TV program and newspapers (often they are offered already at the hotel).