It is our responsibility as travellers to leave destinations as we find them and help preserve their natural environment
The concept of responsible travel is intensifying in the UK with topics like single plastic use and respecting nature being far better understood now than they were just a few years ago. However, a recent survey by adventure travel company Explore exposed some flaws in our behaviour when we travel. The research uncovered that while we Brits are pretty good at doing our bit on home turf with 77% of us saying we regularly recycle, 50% of us also admit to being less likely to recycle when on holiday.
Is this entirely surprising though? When on holiday, it’s easy to forget the menial tasks that we do day-to-day without as a second thought at home in the UK. Often, when staying in a resort, hotel or holiday rental, there is a certain expectation that it is entirely the responsibility of the resort to take care of this for you. As a result our expectations of the service provided are very different to how we would behave at home. For instance; 37% of us expect towels and sheets to be changed daily as part of the experience of staying in a hotel, but are we thinking about the environmental impact of this?
When looking at Brits’ behaviour abroad on a wider scale, Explore research found that respect for nature when we visit another country is often compromised in the heat of the tropical sun. For example; although 75% of Brits recognise that activities such as elephant rides, visiting a zoo or swimming with dolphins can be deemed irresponsible, around 30% would still participate in these whilst away travelling.
Ultimately, when we travel and visit beautiful locations around the world, we want to be welcomed back and ensure we’re leaving destinations in the same state we find them as well as help preserve the natural environment. Here are some of the small steps we can take when travelling abroad to ensure we take responsibility for our actions and show respect for the locals.
Get clued up on local customs
Different countries may have customs that you’re unaware of but could potentially offend when you’re away. Getting clued up before you go away will ensure that you remain respectful to the local people and their culture.
Opting for locally-owned and run accommodation will not only provide you with a more traditional experience but you will be supporting local business owners who often build their livelihood on showing visitors the beauty and sights of where they live.
Be respectful of local wildlife
It’s a given but wildlife is a big part of what makes certain destinations so desirable and there are certain things you might not think of, for example; taking selfies with wildlife could scare creatures and feeding them human food can be really harmful. Just having a heightened awareness is key to respecting the local wildlife and its surroundings. .
Visiting local markets and shops is a great way to explore a city and buying local is an important part of giving back to the people who live there. You’ll end up with some lovely, unique souvenirs and the feeling that you’ve supported a local businessperson – win-win.
Watching your water usage
When we’re not paying the water bill it’s easy to forget the impact this could have on the local environment so turning off taps when brushing teeth and keeping shower length to a minimum is still something to bear in mind when on holiday.
Travel with local leaders
Not only will you likely get the most authentic and enjoyable tour with a local guide who has a genuine passion for where they live, but you know you’re supporting a local. That’s how you’re going to find out the most interesting things about a place and ultimately, have the best time.
Offset carbon emissions (where possible)
Now it’d be naïve to think you can be entirely eco-friendly when taking a flight overseas but it’s worth bearing in mind which tour operators try to mitigate the impact of flying. That way, you know you are doing your bit to help whilst also still enjoying the sights of the world.
Learn the local language
I bet you’ve found yourself saying ‘I wish us Brits were better at learning languages’ and whilst we no doubt have some work to do, just being able to say some key phrases and communicate with local people goes a long way in ensuring tourists are welcome in particular areas. You may just impress your family and friends too!
We all want to pack right and hit that elusive ‘15kg’ limit. One way to do so whilst also being a responsible traveller is by packing culturally suitable clothes and avoiding packing disposable goods that may not be recycled.
Think before you click
That click is in reference to photos. Being respectful of the local community means checking that people are happy for you to take photos that they will appear in.
It doesn’t need to take much to become a more responsible traveller. Thinking about some of these things when you’re next away will ensure that we’ll continue to be welcomed back to visit our favourite destinations for many years to come.
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