Many of us love to travel and explore the world, experience different cultures, visiting a whole host of different nations and generally take time out from our hectic lifestyles. These days it is not necessarily a question of taking a fortnight’s holiday to lie on the beach; we have far more expectations from a trip that include exploring different worlds.
With this in mind, how do we travel responsibly? Of course, we cannot disguise the fact that by flying around the world we are impacting the environment, but we can do our very best to ensure we consider each destination we visit with care and compassion.
Dos and Don’ts to Consider when Travelling
- Book with a travel company that follows a ‘Code of Conduct’ with responsible tourism policies
- Book a flight with the most direct route (less take-off & landing)
- Use local guides, apart from anything else, you will get a true impression of the area
- Stay in eco-friendly accommodation and re-use towels and bedding
- If possible do not use air-conditioning and turn off all lights when leaving your room
- Travel with a re-usable bag and water bottle
- Eat and drink local produce, it may not be what you’re used to but “when in Rome…”!
- Do not take part in ‘Voluntourism’ in orphanages, you may mean well, but this is proving to do more harm than good with orphanages becoming incentivised and separating families
- We all love a souvenir, but why buy a mass-produced one from another country when you can buy local – consider your purchases carefully
- Remember to cover up and act respectfully when visiting places of worship; religion in many parts of the world is sacred
- Do your homework and observe local customs and traditions
- Learn a few important phrases before you visit a non-English speaking country
There is a big drive around the world to improve animal conservation. Many of us will be familiar with the David Attenborough series, and are becoming more aware of animal welfare and how to avoid exploiting these creatures in the tourism industry.
Some tourist traps to avoid
- Never take part in elephant rides or wild cat petting at sanctuaries
- Do visit these animals in sanctuaries that do not allow rides, you will be helping with conservation
- Do not attend whale and dolphin shows
- Do not swim with dolphins and turtles, you may be helping to shorten their lives and almost certainly cause them stress
- Any tourist attraction trapping animals will undoubtedly take these animals from their natural habitat, just for our pleasure. The practice of capturing animals for tourism, both large and small, is very big business in certain parts of the world, don’t encourage it.
With global warming taking its toll on the world, are Europe’s low laying ski resorts to become a thing of the past? Well due to lack of snow this could become a possibility. It is a fact that the ski season, generally running from December to early April, has become shorter in recent years and the use of snow cannons has become more and more prevalent. Unfortunately research now reveals that this way of producing ‘fake’ snow is environmentally damaging in several ways, not least of all because of its chemical composition and ultimate damage to wildlife. Unfortunately, many resorts in the Northern Hemisphere rely on these machines and without them their ski season is not productive.
Finally, the question of how often we should travel will rage on, but at the very least we all need to think more carefully about how we treat the world and its occupants, particularly when moving around our beautiful planet. Treat others and their property with the care and respect we would wish for ourselves!