Responsible Travel – The top line

Responsible travel is a new way of travelling for those who’ve had enough of mass tourism. It’s about respecting and benefiting local people and the environment – but it’s about far more than that.

If you travel for relaxation, fulfillment, discovery, adventure and to learn – rather than simply to tick off ‘places and things’ – then responsible travel is for you.

Responsible travel suits life’s curious adventurers and enthusiasts.

Getting more out of your holiday
Responsible travel is about bringing you closer to local cultures and environments by involving local people in tourism. It’s about doing this in a fair way that helps ensure that they will give you an even warmer welcome.

For example, a local guide from the destination will open your eyes to their cultures and ways of life far better than an expat guide could ever do – they will also earn a much needed income from you.

The responsible traveler prefers smaller groups, and to meet some local people (as well as fellow travelers) rather than be surrounded by 1000’s of people from back home. They don’t like being herded about in a large crowd like nameless faces and understand that travelling in smaller groups makes local people and cultures more accessible.

The responsible travelers want to get a little bit more out of their travels, and to give a little bit back to the special places and people that they encounter. They want deeper and more real travel experiences. The responsible traveler values authenticity – experiences integral to local people’s traditions, cultures and rituals – rather than those created for tourism, or those whose existing meanings and uses have become lost as they have been packaged up for tourism.

At the same time the responsible traveler understands that some cultural experiences are best kept private, and that their visit would be an intrusion. They believe that travelling with respect earns them respect.

Rediscovering nature
Responsible travel is about re-discovering how to experience nature and to be in it, feeling it, smelling it and learning about it rather than just looking at it.

Through this they replenish their souls. They would rather get out on foot than sit in a big bus, and are determined to leave no physical evidence of their visit but their footprints.

The responsible traveler understands local peoples relationship with environments, and that income from tourism can be a powerful incentive for conservation.

The responsible traveler values diversity – diversity of people, cultures and environments. They believe that they can grow as individuals through these experiences, and that their trip can make a positive contribution towards conserving global diversity.

Above all else the responsible traveler wants to cut loose and experience their world. The experienced responsible traveler knows how difficult it can be to do the right thing – and is humble and learns from their mistakes. Whether they travel independently, or through a leading responsible travel operator, the responsible traveler makes and experiences a difference.

When we visit beautiful places it’s natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and their environments.

Responsible travel is about more authentic holiday experiences that enable you to get a little bit more out of your travels, and give a little bit more back to destinations and local people.

All holidays have positive and negative impacts locally.
Responsible travel maximizes the benefits, and minimizes the negative effects of tourism.

Before you travel
• Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language – travelling with respect earns you respect.
• Remove all excess packaging – waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries
• Ask your tour operator for specific tips for responsible travel in your destination
• Ask your tour operator/hotel if there are useful gifts that you could pack for your hosts, local people or schools
• Ask your tour operator whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and if/how you could help support them

While on holiday
• Buy local products in preference to imported goods
• Hire a local guide – you’ll discover more about local culture and lives, and they will earn an income
• Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places – if in doubt ask advice or don’t visit
• Use water sparingly – it’s very precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people
• Remember that local people have different ways of thinking and concepts of time, this just makes them different not wrong – cultivate the habit of asking questions (rather than the Western habit of knowing the answers

When you get back
• Write to your tour operator or hotel with any comments or feedback about your holiday, and especially include any suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communities.
• If you’ve promised to send pictures or gifts to local people remember to do so, many are promised and not all arrive!
• Enjoy the memories, reflect on your experience and start planning your next trip!