With the many ways you can book cheap flights, it’s easy to achieve your travel goals both locally and internationally. But while you explore cultural diversity and awesome Instagram-worthy landscapes, it’s also best to leave a positive impact in your dream vacation spot by practicing responsible traveling.
Here are some of the ways you can be a responsible traveler during your vacation.
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1. Give some time for community projects
Whether you’re traveling for a week or a whole month, you can make a difference by taking the time to participate in some community projects. If you are a skilled individual (e.g. a medical professional or an infrastructure expert), you can sign up for sustainable development projects needing people with your background. If you’re not, you can still volunteer by asking non-profit organizations about the other ways you can help in their missions for environmental protection and sustainability.
2. Shop and eat locally
One of the benefits of traveling is that you get to expose your tastebuds to great food. The authentic food gives you a whole new gastronomic experience that may be available or not available in your country or location. After all, the best way to experience a country or place is to actually eat and shop locally. Doing so will expose you to cultural diversity through their unique food and products, and you also directly help sustain the livelihood of the community by buying local products.
3. Bargain respectfully
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In some countries and locations, bargaining is part of the culture. In fact, locals expect you to bargain and may be surprised if you don't. Still, you should look at the bigger picture. These locals are selling or providing cheap goods fas livelihood for their families and communities. It’s nothing compared to your travel expenses such as your hotel or flight tickets.
Respect the culture by not abusing it. If you can afford the item, skip the bargaining and pay the actual price. This is especially true when it comes to locally-sourced and made products or services.
4. Use environment-friendly items
There are many eco-friendly products available in the market so it’s impossible to say that there are no sustainable alternatives to your toothbrush, shampoo, or even cups. From toiletries to cutlery, you can buy environmentally friendly products online or in local supermarkets and malls. Help protect the environment by going zero waste on your trip.
5. Share your experience in social media
Social media can be a powerful tool for responsible traveling. You can use it to give good reviews about local restaurants and hotels or share the locals’ environmentally ethical practices. In this way, you help others choose good restaurants and hotels, plus let them know and encourage them to abide by environmental protection regulations in the country or place.
6. Respect to the culture
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Different places mean different cultures. Since you’re a tourist, you must definitely find ways to show respect to the culture of the community. Take time to read about cultural appropriateness in your chosen country or place. Learn about their dress codes and avoid possibly offensive practices. Download an app to learn the language of the country, even just the basic greetings. By doing so, you show how careful and respectful you are of their culture and tradition.
7. Opt for public transportation
Minimizing your carbon footprint, also known as carbon offsetting, is one of the environmentally friendly actions you can easily do. To do this, you can simply opt to take public transportation such as buses or trains. Or if you’re not going to somewhere far away, you can simply walk or rent a bike. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for your health, too!
8. Treat animals kindly
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Of course, you can marvel at majestic and interesting creatures. However, make sure that you’re going to ethical animal attractions. Do your research before going there, and don’t proceed if the said attractions are reported for animal mistreatment. Also, take note of environmental protection laws and regulations that prohibit you from touching or feeding animals you may encounter on the road.
9. Pick sustainable tours and accommodation
This tip may take a little bit of research. However, finding hotels and tours that promote sustainable development are beyond words rewarding! These places may donate a portion of their earnings to support sustainability causes, such as hiring more locals or donating to environmentally sustainable organizations.
10. Remind others to be responsible travelers
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If you are practicing responsible traveling, you might as well encourage others to do it, too. Remind your companions to be more culturally sensitive if they happen to dress inappropriately for the place, or if they did say a comment that could be offensive. Also, report to the authorities if you see someone intentionally breaking environmental protection laws or committing cultural offenses.
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11. Help out in the right way
You might feel bad if you don’t give to beggars. But don’t worry, because you are actually doing the right thing. Giving money to beggars can do more harm than good.
For example, you need to be culturally aware that some locals may be encouraged to beg tourists for money. Some locals may use it as a “business” to extort money from tourists when they actually come from well-off families. Respect culture by not encouraging a begging culture in the place. Help in the right way by giving food and water instead, or supporting local organizations that help the poor.
12. Think twice before taking and posting a picture
Understand that you cannot just take a snapshot of people or locations. Ask first before taking a picture of a local or a place. If the person or the authorities said no, then don’t risk it. But if you’re allowed to do so, practice cultural appropriateness by thinking twice before posting the photo or writing your caption. Posting photos and captions can be potentially offensive, especially photos of culturally sensitive locations like the Holocaust memorial in Europe.
Responsible traveling may seem like a daunting task. At times, you might forget about being culturally aware because you’re caught up in the moment. Or, you are in a hurry that you forget to follow environmentally friendly actions. Still, you should try to be a responsible traveler. It’s a simple form of giving back to your dream vacation spot, by leaving a positive impact on the people you’ve met there.