31 Jan 20 Responsible Travel Tips
Your response to my previous post about becoming a more responsible traveller left me in happy tears.
I always knew you were amazing, but your comments filled my heart with more joy than I can put into words. I’ve already started my journey toward responsible travel by taking a direct bus from Vienna to Prague and staying local – with my parents to be more specific ? But don’t worry, I plan on keeping this up all over the world regardless of whether I have a couch to crash on or not.
To kick off our responsible travel adventures, I’ve turned to Girls vs Globe members and asked them for their best tips. If you’re not a member yet I highly recommend you join our free community on Facebook. There are nearly 10,000 women in the group which means I now literally have friends all over the world.
Here’s what a few of them had to say on the topic of responsible travel…
Something I am always careful about is not taking part in harmful activities/attractions while travelling. It’s very irresponsible to attend activities where animals, and even some cases humans, aren’t treated properly. A few examples are visiting elephant riding tours and circuses where the elephants are mistreated or buying Kopi Luwak where the civets are harmed and mistreated in the process.
-Shelby, The Fernweh Wolf
You don’t have to compromise your beauty routine (or your ethics!) to get through airport security. Look for solid versions of shampoos, conditioners, and even toothpaste! My favorite brand to use is Lush, a completely cruelty-free brand that has everything to keep you looking and smelling fresh. Their toothy tabs – solid toothpaste – have the first recyclable toothpaste container ever!
-Megan, Beat Broke Backpacking
If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, it can be as easy as choosing to walk everywhere. Whenever I get to a new city, I walk around for hours. It’s not only environmentally friendly, but it is also one of the best ways to get your bearings in a new city and learn how to navigate it.
-Mimi, The Atlas Heart
As of last year, passenger jets are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions! So while yes, it is really fun to hop on a plane and head across the world, don’t be afraid to embrace close-to-home travel as an alternative (much greener!) alternative. Trawl Instagram, hit up local tourism boards, and travel with the sense of wonder you usually reserve for abroad – you’ll be surprised at what amazing discoveries you’ll make just outside your door!
-Polly, Green Indy
On top of using alternative means of transportation as walking and biking to move around, what really helps is putting together several destinations in one trip to avoid a huge carbon footprint flying to just one destination each time. I know it is difficult to simply not book all those low-cost flights and fill your weekends with city getaways (especially if you are in Europe) but the environment will benefit of this big time in the end.
-Inma, A World To Travel
Pack a menstrual cup. It saves so much space in your bag, you can carry it around all the time so you’re never caught off-guard, you can avoid an unnecessary shopping trip (especially if you’re in a country that isn’t known for rocking tampons or pads), plus you save money, PLUS it’s better for the environment. Basically, it’s a life-changer.
-Amy, Page Traveller
Read up on the local culture and learn a few words of the local language. Even if it’s just “please” and “thank you,” being respectful to the local people you’re visiting will earn you respect in return. Taking the time to learn about the cultural mannerisms and ettiquette is also very helpful to avoid a faux pas, such as not tipping enough, eating with the wrong hand (this really happens), or wearing “inappropriate” colors.
-Kaitlin, Around the World in Katy Days
I understand the pressure to look good in your Instagram shots more than most, but please dress appropriately. You’re a guest in the foreign country you’re visiting and I think it’s important to be respectful. Besides, it’s easy to look cute while doing so. Just put on a floral maxi dress and a silk shawl draped over your shoulders, and nobody will be offended.
Use the Happy Cow app to find ethical eats wherever you are! Whether or not you’re a committed vego, you can cut down on your carbon footprint by eating less animal products as you explore our globe. The free app uses your location info to show you the closest vegan and vegetarian eateries (or just those that have vego options!) to you. Most of the listings have been rated by other users of the app, so you can see where to head to and where to steer clear of. There’s also a little blurb provided so you know what’s on offer – whether it’s international cuisine or local fare, fast food or a fancier restaurant. I wouldn’t have found the best vegan donuts in Berlin without it!
-Sarah Jeffrey, 7 Steps From Home
Save paper. Instead of grabbing maps from every city you visit, take a picture of it from your phone and refer to it from there!
-Isabel, Bel Around The World
Check whether you can bring useful items for the local community through a wonderful organisation called Pack For a Purpose. I have no affiliation with them, I just think it’s a brilliant idea. You start by selecting your destination country, then your lodging and choose from the list of items that are needed – whether it’s art supplies, Lego, frisbees, or flash reading cards. In some cases you can even get to meet the recipients like local schools!
-Suze, Luxury Columnist
For tours and accommodations – especially in more remote parts of developing countries! – always ask ahead what percentage of the staff is locally hired and what initiatives are done for the local community. I love knowing that my money is going directly back to the communities that I’m visiting to help the people I meet.
-Karen, Wanderlusting K
If you’re travelling in a country with an oppressive political regime, do your research and check which hotels and tour operators are directly funded by the government. You don’t want the earnings to go directly in the corrupt officials’ pockets, so find truly local options instead.
To make a lasting impact in the local communities you visit be sure to always seek out lodging, restaurants and activities that are owned and operated by local people, not foreigners. To increase your impact even further seek out businesses that give a percentage of earnings to a local cause! You would be amazed how many of these social enterprises exist. There are 10 million do-good organizations around the globe! Once you start making this simple adjustment to your trip itineraries you will find that the way you travel becomes much deeper and impactful. For a marketplace of immersive and impactful travel experiences make a booking through Visit.org where 100% of hosts’ revenue is invested back into the local community.
-Lola, Miss Filatelista
When it comes to booking activities while travelling, you often have a choice of multiple companies. While most people rely on pricing and reviews, I suggest going one step further and looking into what the company stands for. Some companies and tours do more harm than good, especially when it comes to wildlife. Avoid tours with too much animal contact such as elephant riding programs.
Also be aware of activities where animals are kept solely for tourism reasons, such as the whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines, which are baited by locals. Instead, when possible, use organizations that support animal welfare. For example, many marine tourism operators (snorkelling, scuba diving, boating) will have clean up efforts or conservation projects on the side. This information is often found on the company’s website, or even feel free to ask. If you want your tourism dollars to have a positive impact on wildlife and the environment, these are the types of companies you should look for and support.
-Hannah, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
No matter where you go, a towel is always on the packing list. Some are fortunate enough to stay at luxury hotels in which case you may not need one, but not everyone has that option. I always pack my microfibre quick dry towel. It is compact, extremely quick to absorb and dry after, and has anti-bacterial properties! What more could you want?!
-Tracey, Gone Globelle
If you’ll be traveling for a while and know you’ll need to do laundry, consider buying something like Scrubba, a small, easily folded up portable clothes washer that will use less water, requires no power except your hands and some kneading motions, and only requires about 3 minutes to wash and clean. It saves water and energy as opposed to a traditional washer and dryer, and it also mean not having to pack too many clothes either. Bonus tip – a small travel bottle of Dr. Bronner’s makes for excellent laundry soap on the fly and can also be used as body wash since a little goes a long way. That’s at least two uses in one right there to also cut down on how many products/toiletries you need.
-Lauren, Roaming Holiday
Although I believe minimalism is one of the most responsible ways to travel, there are a few extra things that make travel more responsible. Rather than always buying water bottles to purify water I travel with a Steripen and reusable water bottle. It uses ultraviolet light to make water safe for drinking and for less than $100 you’ll make your money back in all the plastic water bottles you’d need to buy.
-Ayngelina, Bacon Is Magic
One of my main concerns when travelling is the footprint I leave behind in the form of rubbish. Life on the go produces a lot of inevitable waste, like food wrappers on the plane or half-empty shampoo bottles you couldn’t smuggle through airport security. However, some rubbish is easy to avoid: takeaway coffee cups and plastic bottles of water.
I always travel with my trusted Keep Cup, which saves a lot of plastic waste in the coffeeshop and even gets me a discount off the price in many countries around the world. The other thing I always carry with me is a reusable water bottle, which has the additional effect of staying hydrated and healthy on the road. There are even water bottles with an integrated filtration system, for those destinations where tap water isn’t safe to drink!
-Kathi, Watch Me See
Don’t just focus on how you can be more responsible while travelling – think about how your everyday actions impact the environment and the people around you. Can you walk instead of driving? How about doing your daily shop at a local market instead of a big chain? Maybe you can skip meat and dairy a few days a week? All these small decisions add up to something great and wonderful.
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