What does it REALLY mean to become a “responsible traveler”? I’m sure you have heard this over the past couple of years where “sustainability” and “responsibility” have been instilled within corporate missions, however, it also applies to consumers. These are some of the biggest buzzwords are flying through the travel industry. They are shaping the way in which people are exploring our world. So what exactly does this mean?
Responsible or sustainable tourism focuses on the impact and the choices we make when planning our next getaway. Are we overconsuming, do we pay attention to local cultures, are we doing activities that are harmful to our furry friends? If you can say ‘no’ to these questions, then most likely you are finding ways to become a responsible traveler.
Prior to booking flights or tours, it is so important to do your research. Did you know that flying is one of the fastest-growing sources of CO2? I highly recommend traveling like a local to carbon reduce rather than offset.
You can offset directly with the airline when you book your flight. All you have to do is just pay an extra fee on top of the flight cost, which is then donated to a carbon offset program. Many of the airlines have some sort of carbon offset program however, they vary depending on how they work.
I try to include clothing that will be necessary for the destination I’m traveling to. Things to consider may be related to the culture. For example, do women need to be covered up? Can you pack a lighter if you are traveling to a warmer climate? Are the items you are packing easy to wash and dry?
I like prefer to shop at local markets, restaurants, or food trucks when traveling. This not only supports the local economy but helps support it in other ways. By choosing local food I am contributing to lightening the footprint. Shopping in markets is also a great way to try new and exciting foods.
When on the go, it is easy to make educated choices like using a reusable water bottle or a shopping bag to cut down on plastic. You can also use the cruise control to help cut down on using gas, which means less time to fill up. Lastly, when on the road you should still take the time to dispose of your garbage properly and recycle things that can be recycled. A few minutes spent doing this means less waste in landfills.
One of the hardest parts of responsible travel is deciding on suitable activities. Make sure that the choices that you make don’t affect the local culture or harm any animals. Choose wisely and respect the places you will be visiting. For example, if you are snorkeling in Akumal in Mexico, make sure you do not touch the sea life and disturb the natural habitat.
We all need to be conscious when traveling, so doing some research and asking questions before paying for things is really important. Remember, as responsible tourists, we choose to leave lighter footprints so we can be rewarded with an endless bucket list of adventures.
What are your thoughts and tips to travel more responsibly?