Have you ever thought about how to be a responsible traveller? Or how do you find if you are a responsible traveller?
First, let us get to know who are all the responsible travellers… Responsible travellers are also known as a conscious travellers, who thinks about their actions while travelling, by understanding the impact they create on the environment and its communities. Apart from that, they are mindful about the choices they make while travelling so that they extend the lifeline of the destination without causing a negative impact and create a positive influence among peers.
Responsible travellers are an immense requirement in the future. Covid-19 have put forth how important it is to protect any destination and its community so that it withstands time. With pandemic impact soaring high, various tourist destination and the people depending on travellers and tourists for their livelihood are in a state of unpredictability. Right now and in future you are needed to help your country and your locality back to form economically.
Being a responsible traveller is not as easy as it sounds to be. Even though you decided to become one, you will have various distractions and end up losing your determination as a result of psychological distractions.
Many travellers who wanted to be a responsible and mindful at many occasion, but when situation arise they give up by making unsustainable choices and behaviours. Especially while travelling in groups as mob mentality has more pressure and they subconsciously give in to the unsustainable practices. So, rather than going in full fledge, you can slowly take a step by step to try to become a Responsible traveller by enjoying and at the same time being thoughtful.
1. Choose your transportation wisely by minding carbon emission:
When you travel to any place which is not far away or places which can be accessed quite easily think about choosing transport which creates lesser pollution and impact on the environment.
Try to avoid riding a bike to a walkable or cycling distance. If you are travelling solo try to use public transport or share a vehicle instead of taking a car or bike. If you are not in an urgent situation and also the place has a railway line, try to opt the railway instead of the airway.
While choosing airlines try to learn about its carbon emission and chose the one with reduced carbon emission despite its increasing ticket expense if you are not a frequent traveller.
2. Support anything that’s locally sourced
When you travel to any destination try to eat and buy things which are locally sourced, instead of getting anything you can get even in your city, which is highly accessible or branded.
Trying local foods which are locally sourced contribute combinedly to the livelihood of the local community, economy and environment and your health. Local foods have strong uniqueness than the restaurants with multiple branches at multiple destinations without diversified options. Through local foods, you enter into another dimension of culture. Its experience is often un-regretable. Your contribution through this way is more also it is going to cost less, while you save more.
Find the local shops, talk with local people and learn as much as you can from them so that you have an add-on experience. Look for more handicrafts and souvenir shops which are run by local & tribal efforts.
Think before bargaining. Understand with who you are bargaining. When it comes to locals they provide products which are mostly handmade and worthy of the price. Even while bargaining know your extent to which you can go.
Try to be a promoter and supporter of the local communities of the destination and be an influencer who can make local products and souvenirs worth more.
3. Try to leave your footprints not your waste
Where ever you go, be mindful of your environment. Even if you see multiple trashes being thrown around, stay careful and throw your wastes in trashcans instead of getting inspired by the others who are too lazy to throw inside the trashcan. If there is no trashcan around take it back with you and throw when you find one.
Always carry a bottle of your own so that you don’t have to buy plastic water bottles often and utilize waters from RO points and water purifiers.
Carry your own containers and utilities such as spoons and forks, a stainless steel straw (available in market and amazon online shopping store currently) to reduce the plastic usage.
Try to carry reusable cloth bags or jute bags with you so that you can carry things and get the foods in them instead of plastic bags.
Try your best in avoiding packed snacks and foods.
While camping, leave no trace behind. This practice is also known as In and Out practice, where whenever you go camping, whatever you take out and use there, make sure to bring them back in without leaving a trace.
Always be aware of the fact that you are visiting a place where people and animals are living. The waste you make is a problem you create to the entire being.
4. Place Proximity Destinations As Priority
Travel to more local places and destinations that are worthy of more to learn, observe and entertain. To improve domestic tourism, look around your community. Visit various local museums, heritage sites, religious places and ecological places such as lakes, ponds, rivers and hills. Participate in local and cultural events and exhibitions. Exhibitions conducted by Chennai Photo Biennale 2019 utilized various local heritage sites and destinations such as Madras Literary Society, Egmore Government Museum and Madras University etc. With more arrival of visitors to these places eventually makes it more popular among locals and students in and around the city.
Doing this will extend its presence and stop them from disappearing by giving back it’s life. Promoting destinations like this will enable more local activity and increase the local economy.
Promoting proximity tourism activity will create a new track and decrease over-tourism in the destinations which have been dealing more with mass tourism activities. But be mindful, creating new pathways in the ecological sites are not advisable.
5. Look for sustainable tour operators:
When you decide to travel for a long distance and decided to reach out a tour operator be mindful of the one you choose. Try to opt for the most responsible one instead of profit-oriented operators for a change.
Various responsible tour operators create sustainable and eco-tourism related packages such as tea tourism in Assam by Purvi Discovery and Shangai Moonlight Camping in Manipur. Tour operators such as Spiti Ecosphere, Wander Womaniya, The Blue Yonder, Wander On etc. are encouraging and promoting heritage walks, camping and trekking among tourist as a part of developing responsible tourism practices.(At present most of them are temporarily closed, make sure to check)
It is one of the tough decision to make, but the one who is ready to act on will eventually able to become responsible traveller faster than you think.
6. Look out for an eco-conscious or sustainable accommodation:
Accommodation is one of the significant aspects of the travel and tourism sector and has more to do with sustainability. Making a smart and responsible choice might be tiring for many, but it has a major impact on the environment.
Various star hotels, resorts and homestays are currently involving in sustainable development and practices. Look for accommodations which are eco-friendly and certified. Some of the Eco Certifications and Labels are Global Sustainable Travel Council(GSTC) certification, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED) certification, EU Eco-label, Green Globe certification, Ecotel certification, Green Key Eco Ratings etc.
When you travel to any eco-tourism destination, try to look out for cottages, eco-resorts and homestays which utilizes the help of locals and their production in order to contribute to the locals, environment and energy-saving practices.
7. Be careful and respectful towards local culture:
When you travel to a new place, never separate the people living there and their culture as a different entity.
Try to learn more about the places, people and their culture before, during and after the visit.
Be careful of your behaviour and actions so that you don’t offend their lifestyle or cause disturbance to their livelihood. On the general term, tourist activities impact the life of the locals more than you think. So try to be friendly and polite at your best and worst when it comes to locals.
Always learn, stick to instructions if you are taking a guided trip, try to learn their languages and vocabularies. Make sure to show respect in the form of practising their greetings, etiquette, dress code and avoid creating inconvenience in places where they have restrictions. Especially, in various Pacific Asian countries, where it is highly expected. Keep in mind that all your actions and reactions have different connotation and intonations in different countries.
In the current situation, as a responsible traveller it is also important to avoid travelling to places where you are not welcome. Many places are not happy with travellers due to the fear of spread of Covid-19 virus. So make sure to be understanding even when you are away. When you are welcome, adhere to the medical checkups and procedures following by that place.
8. Be an Influencer by Sharing and Inspiring
Being a Responsible traveller or a tourist doesn’t end with your actions and practices, it branches out in the form of sharing, educating and inspiring. Use social media forums to proudly present your activities and priorities you made as a responsible traveller. Communicate the challenges and achievements also callout your friends to be a responsible traveller and help them to be one.
A small change can become a chain of actions and lead to massive growth and opportunity. It’s not easy as people sometimes tend to think about only what they lose, especially the convenience they are missing out than the positive changes that they are creating. Making these sustainable actions is not a one-time activity, it is sequential and focused on growth over time.
Try to start one step at a time if you are not confident to give a full blow, but never stop trying. Start your research and bring out the responsible traveller and tourist inside you for your next trip which you already started planning out. Bring out the responsible traveller in you for better and safer travel and tourism practice.
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