Responsible traveling is becoming increasingly popular because travel is more affordable and cheaper than ever. We are all #travellovers, looking for cheap air tickets, we can eat in restaurants, swim with dolphins, rent a car. We can travel our own way.
But with these options, I think the responsibility of learning comes as well. We live in an information time, when we can find and verify information with just a few clicks. We can find information about any place, organization, company, people from multiple sources. The use of these options before the trip is, I think, MUST HAVE every traveler, tourist, hiker, because we are going to visit a place we don’t live in, we don’t know how it works there and what we should know about culture, traditions or life.
At the same time, we decide to spend our earned and sometimes hard-to-save money in the country. What do we want to spend the money on and whom do we want to support?
Responsible travel does not mean that you will be zero waste, you will only travel on foot. This means that the way we choose to travel, the countries that we choose to visit, or the choices we make on the road can create a positive or negative impact.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It is, but it is not very difficult. Even though we know what responsible travel means, we try to make the right decisions, but we’re not always 100%. Some things we managed already, some not so completely, but also reason why we want to share them. Maybe during the next trip you will have a little more positive impact on the place you are in. 🙂
The plastic problem
The problem with the plastic waste we all create is probably already known to everyone. Your own bottle, cutlery, straw that you can have in your bag while you are traveling and don’t need to use plastic is such a small base. And you do not have to travel to another country, just a trip to another city or a Friday night when you are planning to drink a lot of drinks and need a straw 🙂 More about it in an article about plastics.( for now only in Slovak language)
This part of travel is a dispute over the quarrels of travelers on forums. If we do not want to leave the ecological footprint, we should not travel at all. But you without sin throw the first stone, right?
But we can do something to reduce the environmental impact.
In the big cities there is mostly a public transport that takes you to where you need it. It is often faster than a car, because you don’t have to stuck in traffic. In some places it is also a great experience, as we had with dala dala in Tanzania, where two more people would hang on one bus than they should 🙂
The train is one of the most environmentally friendly way of transport, although it is often more expensive than a bus. For example, the train is really expensive when traveling between Poland and Slovakia. But we use Flixbus, where you can pay a few cents to help compensate for the Co2 that you created with your ride.
Flying mainly on short distances is very unecological, because the most fuel is consumed when taking off and landing. The problem is that airplanes fly often, but their capacity is not always full. Another aircraft problem is plastic waste that is produced in one flight. Plastic cutlery, glasses, bottles, plates … some airlines have already begun to work to limit plastics, but it’s still not perfect.
We try to bring our own food or empty water bottle so we don’t have to use plastic cups from the plane. It is just small change we can do, but every small step counts.
When we travel by car, we often share our trip on Facebook pages where someone can join us. We will help those people who don’t have connection with bus or train and we also do not have a half-empty car. You can share or find your ride on BlaBlaCar, or the good old way of hitch hiking. 🙂
Every country has its own culture and the way you travel further away from your country may seem to be different. Different culture and traditions do not always mean they are wrong. Before traveling, we always find out what the habits and religions of the country we are going to be, so that we do not offend anyone unnecessarily, mock somebody or ourselves, it was not an unpleasant faux paux.
So we were in Zanzibar during the Ramadan period, when we could not eat in public and we can not show shoulders and knees. We cover them and people appreciated how we behaved to their culture and traditions. We would also appreciate if someone will do it for us in our country.
None of us likes animal violence, their abuse. What many people do not realize is that it concern many animals we can meet during traveling abroad.
Swimming with dolphins in an aquarium, elephant riding in Thailand, cuddling with a tiger, monkeys in a dress on the beach. Many of these activities are offered officially and harm to animals is not clear at first sight. But where is demand there is also an offer.
Travelers are looking for these activities, so someone will always sell them.
Elephants with chains on their legs, tiger tiger like a kitten, dolphin living in an aquarium … just enough common sense to realize there’s something fishy.
Search for information on the internet, social networks, forums from people who have already been there. There are also rescue centres, where you can see these animals, for example, you can wash an elephant who has been saved and could not survive in the wild. But there are also many fraudsters, who pretend to protect animals, but they are not. So find informations, read reviews, ask questions. If it is honest rescue centre, I think they will be happy to answer all your questions.
You can also read more about elephants in Asia in article from Charli Moore.
Finding such a “responsible souvenir” in a number of souvenir shops is not easy at all. After a few minutes, you feel like everything looks same and after turning the item you will find it was made in China, even if you are in Greece.
How to bring home a souvenir to support someone with your money to do the right thing?
- Food – something that the recipient has not tasted yet, or is not sold in your country. For example, we have brought home lemon homemade alcohol from Corsica, fig jam and feta from the local market, coconut and fair trade coffee from Africa. Bringing a “world taste” home is always a good idea.
- Handmade – handmade earrings, bags, clothes, statuettes … anything you buy directly from the artist. You support his/her work and you have something you know where it comes from and maybe an interesting story to say.
- Shells, animal parts (ivory, fur) should be left where they are. We can never be sure how they were obtained and whether or not you help the extinction of some kind of animal.
- Watch for photos. Take pictures of people around you. For example, in Africa, people believe that if you take a picture of them, you will steal their soul. Always ask if you are going to shoot someone to not make someone’s live life without a soul.
Support local people
Guest house accommodation or shopping at the market. You take small steps to support a small business or family. You invest your money in people who live in the community and do not support a wealthy CEO who is drinking his drink on the Caribbean beach.
It is not always possible to travel in a perfectly responsible way, but “sharing is caring”, so it is why this article has also been created. Maybe next time, when you think about your travels, you will choose a different path than before. Maybe you just found out that you are a very responsible traveler. If you have any other tips on how to travel responsibly I’ll be happy if you share.