Each new suitcase, horizon and adventure not only transform us, they can also change the world : and you, are you a responsible traveler ? Being a responsible traveler is a new lifestyle. It is about improving our habits as travelers and finding a balance between the attractions we visit and the impact we generate with them in the place. They are very simple actions that help to preserve the places we visit. It allows us to have a more local experience while taking care of our beautiful planet. If you do not know where to start, this basic guide can help you.
TEN ADVICE TO BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
- Be aware of the risks involved in traveling and take the necessary precautions. Investigate, when you are planning your trip, the characteristics of the destination you want to know and take the necessary measures to keep up to date all the documentation, travel insurance or medical check-ups that you may be asked for. In addition, it follows at all times the recommendations of local authorities, especially in case of emergencies. Check the origin of the products you consume to avoid any risk, especially infectious or derived from allergic reactions or intolerance.
- Encourages the local development of the destination, consuming local products. It supports local entrepreneurship by consuming products or services that are produced in the destination and whose direct and indirect benefits are distributed transversely and favor the most vulnerable groups. Also, when you acquire any good or service, buy only what you really need and do it at a fair price so as not to destabilize the local economy or the living conditions of the owners or employees of local businesses.
- Share and learn about your host community, respecting its values and traditions. Learn, whenever possible, about the cultural aspects of the destination you visit (customs, gastronomy, languages or dialects, traditions, heritage …). Also, make sure you know your social norms to avoid behaviors that may be offensive or humiliating to your host community. In the same way, be an example of tolerance , creating opportunities for mutual learning with locals and other travelers, and avoid conflicting or unwanted situations .
- Contributes to the conservation, protection and regeneration of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the land. Enjoy only products, services and experiences that guarantee the sustainable exploitation of the aquatic and terrestrial resources of the destination and that respect the natural habitat of the native or foreign fauna and flora, avoiding animal abuse or the destruction of the environment. In the same way, it adopts a responsible behavior, avoiding the generation of waste , and collaborates with the sanitation and cleaning programs carried out in the destination to avoid the deterioration of natural spaces and maintain biodiversity .
- Respect diversity and do not encourage or participate in discriminatory activities. It favors the elimination of barriers that limit the integration of people due to gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, economic situation or other condition; avoiding sexist language, offensive comments or the use of labels that contribute to negative stereotyping of these groups. It also facilitates access and equal opportunities for those who have different needs in terms of mobility and communication, respecting the spaces or services intended for their use.
- Consume responsibly and participate in the sustainable management of resources. Choose products, services or experiences that guarantee the management and intelligent and efficient use of water and energy resources , consuming those that generate less impact on the environment and can be recyclable or reusable. Avoid excessive or wasteful consumption of water and opt, whenever you can, for transport with reduced or zero emissions. Also, calculate your carbon footprint and compare it as much as possible.
- It favors the sustainability of the heritage and the infrastructures of the destination. Pay special attention to recognize how the destination is managed and the infrastructures that comprise it (buildings, transport, housing, public spaces …) so that your visit does not involve an alteration in local life. In addition, it contributes to the conservation of tourist attractions , respecting the rules and access designed for its preservation and protection.
- Choose products, services or experiences that enhance the sustainability of the destination through R + D + i. Prioritizes those products, services or experiences that, whenever possible, incorporate new technologies and innovative methods that contribute to the sustainability of the destination through savings or better use of resources, information or communication skills.
- Encourages fair and just working conditions that respect the rights of the workers. Verify that the products or services you consume have been produced in decent and fair working conditions that integrate the local population or at risk of social exclusion and that avoid sexual or child exploitation, animal abuse or unhealthiness, among others. Similarly, treat all workers respectfully , both those of the companies of the destination to which you travel and those of your own community.
- Join the manifesto of the responsible traveler and share it, because the responsibility is shared.
IMPORTANT RULES FOR RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
LOOKING FOR SUSTAINABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
Once you have chosen your destination, look for accommodations that are sustainable, that is, places that care about the environment. They may have energy saving systems or rainwater harvesting, for example. Also, they may not wash your towels or sheets daily and instead of giving plastic containers with personal hygiene products, they have a large container that they fill each time a new guest arrives.
Make sure that the food you eat is made with local ingredients and, if possible, organic. In addition to helping the economy of the place, you will be improving your health. This is valid for hotels, hostels, vacation homes and restaurants. If on the other hand you are one of those who cook at home, then buy your products in the local market, the products usually have better taste and you will have the opportunity to live with people from the area.
USE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
When you reach your destination, try to use the car as little as possible . There are many cities that live and enjoy better on foot such as Cartage or Lisbon; and others where the rental of bikes is totally normal, as is the case of Tutu or Mexico City. If the distances are somewhat long, try to move in metro or bus, the city and your pocket will thank you.
FOLLOW THE RULES
I know, following the rules is boring. But in the case of nature reserves or monuments, they exist for a simple reason: preservation. I have seen tourists who climb columns or stairs just to take a picture or a video, please do not do it! It is a lack of respect for the country and its culture. Better try to enjoy the moment and learn more about the place you visit.
RESPECT THE ANIMALS
Although swimming with dolphins or walking on top of an elephant sounds very exotic, the damage to those animals is irreversible. They are species that were born to be free. Most of the animals that participate in these activities are in small spaces, forced to “work”. Mind you, I’m not saying that all places are like that, there are some shelters that make attractions for tourists, that respect the animals, while allowing them to raise money to continue helping. As always, the important thing is that you report well before buying.
AVOID THE PLASTIC
Have you noticed that when you are on a trip, the number of bottles of water you consume is doubled? We all already know the impact that PET has on the world and how its toxins affect our health … so, instead of contributing to the increase of these figures, bring your own packaging. You can fill it in a restaurant, cafeteria or in public drinking fountains in the city. Knotted to this, you can travel with a small metal straw or simply ask not to put plastic straw in your drink.
If your budget is small, a good way to move between one city and another is to share a car. A platform known worldwide is Ba Ba Car . I have used it a few times and without problems (although once I was left standing at 7 pm on a Sunday), you enjoy some conversation and it is usually cheaper than a bus ticket or take your own car. Similarly, with the recent growth of Uber worldwide and similar platforms, a lot of cars are on the streets at a very affordable price. Instead of having the car parked for long hours, try leaving it at home and using these applications.
MONEY TO CHILDREN
I had not thought about this, until I saw a stories from Ida Solo , talking about it. This happens especially in Asian and African countries, where children approach tourists to play and ask for a coin. The normal thing is that we give it to him, since he does not change anything and he helps them. However, it has been seen that fathers and mothers take advantage of this to send their children to ask for money instead of going to school. Without realizing it, instead of doing good, we are feeding great harm. Instead of giving money, I play and leave a pleasant moment in my memory.
SPREAD THE MESSAGE
Support and reduce your tourist footprint! Invite your friends to join this trend, share your opinion and keep traveling!
Finally, do you want to discover how to be a responsible traveler ? The perfect traveler is one who feels respect for the people of the destination country, their culture, their customs and their natural environment. Finding out where you are traveling is a good way to start and it is not enough to know what to visit and what to do, it is to know what rules and regulations there may be to respect them , especially in those countries where there is a big difference culture . What for us is not bad behavior for them could be, this would leave a bad image of our country.