Responsible Travel – The Ins and Outs

When going on vacation, you definitely want to make it the most exciting and invigorating experience, but you also wonder if you can take a trip that enhances conservation? Perhaps, most travelers are not going to clean up the tons of trash that may have accumulated at the foot of Mt. Everest or Mt. Fuji. Then, what’s the next choice?

I was posed with the same question yesterday, when I attended a local seminar on travel.Interestingly, for most of the attendants, the answer was simple – Responsible Travel, as it was for me. However, many people do not understand what it means to travel responsibly.

First, it’s important to make a healthy contribution to the biodiversity, the wilderness and the world. As travelers you must respect the foreign culture and traditions, and encourage greater interaction between the tourist and the host. Finally, you should contribute to the host community in economic terms.

Whether traveling for leisure, business or adventure, responsible travel suits everyone. It’s just making a difference to some of the bigger issues affecting our environment. Just because you are on vacation, doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute to making the world a better place!

Many of the choices that people make contribute to global warming. Air travel is a source of carbon dioxide emission. But in our fast paced lives, dare we imagine a life without air planes! So, how do you minimize the impact? Luckily, there is an answer, which lies in reducing the flying hours.

On a holiday, when you need to travel long routes and hours, you can opt for flights with fewer stopovers. For instance, if you are flying from Los Angeles to Bangkok, the best thing to do, in this case, is to take a direct flight. But if it’s not available, you can hop into a flight with maybe one or two layovers. This means fewer take-offs and landings, when the emission levels are the highest.

Responsible travel is also about taking you closer to the local culture and environment. Involve the local people in your travels and win their trust. This has the most enriching advantages of all. That is, you’re an American and you’re going to Bangkok as a responsible tourist.

You’ll agree that a local guide is always the best person to introduce you to the local culture and customs. Then, instead of hiring an expert guide, isn’t it possible to take help from a local person? Exploring Phuket, Chiang Mai or Koh Samui with local guides is more rewarding than blindly following an expert. They are the best people to open your eyes to the lifestyle in those villages nestled along the Mekong River. The up-side for us is that it will bring genuine experiences and a real taste of the foreign culture and for the locals, it generates the much needed income.

By learning from the locals, you get more out of your travels, and give back to the places and cultures you explore. This is possible when you travel in smaller groups, which makes it easier to access the local areas. All responsible travelers will agree that they prefer to be a part of a small group rather than being part of a huge flock.

What’s more, it needs to be understood that it’s essential to let some cultural experiences remain private, if required. Never to intrude the secrecy of rituals those are considered sacred and solemn. After all, only respect begets respect.

Furthermore, responsible travel is about rediscovering the true spirit of nature. When you visit parks and nature reserves, you should be resolved to not leave anything beyond, not even our footprints. These places are not to be littered with physical evidence such as plastic or other indestructible waste.

When on vacation, bringing back memories from your vacation such as souvenirs and keepsakes is part of the fun. A responsible traveler will always prefer local products over imported goods. When shopping, take time out to find out where the product is from. This way, one contributes to the local economy and allows it to flourish.

It’s only through experiences that we grow as individuals. It is important to value the diversity of people, cultures and environments, which we explore, thus to conserve our incredible worldwide diversity.