What does responsible mean to you? Are you a responsible citizen of your country? Do you do your duties and responsibilities as a citizen of your country? When you travel abroad or anywhere, do you think you still have responsibilities? How to be a responsible traveller?
Again, travelling may seem easy. But, I am telling you now that travelling is not easy and yet challenging. Travelling requires patience, time, efforts, money, and being human. What do I mean by being human?
All human beings have their own duties and responsibilities. So with travellers. Travellers also have duties and responsibilities to nature and to the people. We do not just travel and have fun. But, we also compel some responsibilities. What are those responsibilities?
I always say to myself, “Act like a traveller and not a tourist”.
1. Shop Locally
This should be basic. As we say in Filipino, “tangkilikin ang ariling atin”. This phrase means that you purchase your own goods and products.
When travelling abroad, consider where do you spend your money. When buying goods, it is best to but to the local market or vendor. For example, you want meals, snacks, souvenirs, clothing, and etc., go to the local store and buy from them.
One of the best ways to make a beneficial impact on the lives of the residents in the country you’re travelling is to purchase products that are locally grown or made.
For example, you visit Palawan, Philippines. If you have the alternatives, instead of going to 7-11, it is better to purchase your snack on the sari-sari stores which run by a Filipino Person (the little stands on the streets).
Moreover, street vendors have fresher products than convenience stores. Plus, not only that but, they are also cheaper. If you want to eat tasty, more delicious, and authentic food products, better to go to the local stores or markets.
To add up, avoid purchasing your souvenirs in the airports and cruise ship ports. Why? Apart from they are extra expensive, most of their products are coming from abroad too. Head up to the local stores or market and get your souvenirs. If you are not sure where to go, ask your local guide or local residents where can you good and high-quality local products.
Besides from creating more authentic travel experiences for yourself, you are also helping someone create a better life for themselves.
2. Eat Locally
How to be a responsible traveller? By eating to the local restaurants and food products. We are travelling to experience something new. But then you still opt to go to the same restaurant brand as you have in other countries?
I want to be honest, there is nothing better than tasting local food. Whenever I visit a place, I want to make sure that I taste their local food. It is part of the adventure, right?
Let us also support the local economy by using the local ingredients and produce, workers, restaurant owners, and food culture.
3. Respect the Culture & Customs
Another way to be a responsible traveller is by respecting to their traditions and values. This is one of the most important responsibilities of a traveller. Respect the country. Many tourists are just travelling for the sake of their own happiness.
i. Respect The Way They Are
This might sound totally simple and obvious, but to be a responsible traveller all you really need to do is be a good person. Start with a smile, listen patiently, and respond politely to those around you. Never ever say bad words to the locals and to the co-travelers. Respect begets respect. Always remember the golden role. “Do not do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you.” Basic, right?
ii. Respect Dress Code
Okay, let us say that you are going to Saudi Arabia. We all know their practice of wearing abaya. If you are a woman travelling to a similar country, respect them. Never ever judge other’s cultures and traditions. Avoid war. Respect them by following their law.
In most cultures, covering shoulders and knees is enough. However, walking around in a bikini or bathers is frowned upon. Whether you disagree with this or not, respect the local culture.
iii. Ethical Photography
We love taking pictures. I know. Taking pictures is fine. But, you should know your limit. Be responsible. Take pictures responsibly. Never ever take pictures of other people without their consent.
Photography is an incredible way to remember your travel long after your tan has faded and the trinkets you’ve bought are showing their gear. But for some reason, the usual photography etiquettes that people tend to employ in their own country often seem to fly out the window the minute they step foot in another.
4. Choose Sustainable Tour Operators
Okay. Do you travel with a travel group? Where do you usually get your travel trips?
If you’re travelling as part of a tour, do your research and choose a travel brand that reflects your own values and beliefs. You can ask yourself like: are they just a party company, or do they care about the communities they visit? What sites do they visit? Do they deliberately ignore cruel practices like animal hunting, or have they signed with any wildlife protection bodies?
A good standard is a travel company like Intrepid Travel, who is leading the way when it comes to responsible tourism, is b-corporation certified, and pushes for animal protection across the industry.
5. Stay in Sustainable Accommodation
I am a hospitality professional, fortunately. As the tourism industry evolves and moves towards a more sustainable model, it’s becoming easier and easier to choose sustainable and eco-friendly accommodation.
There are plenty of eco-friendly lodges out there. Just make your research. Hit google and you will find the right eco-friendly accommodation for you.
One time we stayed in a very nice and charming resort, Atmosphere Resorts and Spa. It is an eco-friendly resort located in Negros Oriental, Philippines. From their guests flipflops to bottle waters, they practice and sustain eco-friendly accommodation. They promote a green accommodation system. If you’re in doubt about anything, reach out to them for more information.
6. Minimize Your Waste
How do you minimize your wastes? Minimizing waste doesn’t mean not using anything. Minimizing means responsible usage of materials.
i. Use No Plastic
Respect the environment. If you respect yourself, respect the places you visit too. The destination is welcoming you wholeheartedly, and you have to repay that by avoiding using plastics. Plastic is made out of trees and chemicals. I am not here to lecture about global warming. But, I am here to remind every traveller to be atleast respect nature as the nature embrace and welcome you to its beauty.
ii. Use Reusable Bottles/ Water Purifiers
Prior to your travel, better to bring your carry on bottled water. The reusable one. Upon arrival at the accommodation, you may refill them for your whole day adventure. Instead of buying expensive water in the streets, better to bring your own. Apart from saving, you can also help the environment smile by eliminating waste.
iii. Say NO to Plastic Straws
Ask glass instead of straw. If buying a drink, ask also for reusable glass. There is no need to waste another plastic. If not, bring your own reusable straw. Straw is not expensive. Anyway, you will not get poor by having one.
iv. Reduce | Reuse | Recycle
Practice this. Three great ways to eliminate waste and protect our environment. It is not too late to save mother earth. We can still act now and save the nature. Reduce using plastic material. Reuse instead of throwing things away. Lastly, recycle and innovate.
7. Don’t Give To Beggars
First, I apologize for including this. Beggars are everywhere. And I feel sorry for them. But, that is not the reason to give them money. Do you want to help them? then if you can, find a job for them. You see children asking for money in the street and jumping each car passing? Give them food instead of money.
We understand that you want to save. We all do want to save money while traveling. Saving is good without compromising other people. If you do shopping in the little street vendors, there is no need to bargain too much with them. Bid respectfully. If a merchant accepts your price (or vice versa), you must buy the item. If the price is too much, leave. There are people who bargain a lot but at the end of the bargaining, they do not buy. Respect and do not waste their time too.
Don’t ask for discounts too much too. They are working to live. And so do you. Now, if the merchant already gave you a discount then atleast be contented. Never ever take advantage of them.
9. Educate Others to Be Responsible Travellers
Be a responsible traveller by educating others. Share your experiences. Compare your adventures and share them with your friends and family members. There is nothing wrong with sharing your travel experiences. Share the preparation you did, the adventure you made, the mistakes, the happy memories, and most of all the lesson you’ve learned from your travel adventure.
Another way to educate others is by volunteering. Participate in the local government for any charity and volunteering activities. For example, the feeding program, tree planting, teaching the youth, leadership training, and etc.
“The best way that you can give back is by offering up your services or your time.”Dariece Swift
Goats on the Road
To sum up, everyone can be a responsible traveller. We may not do everything but atleast we d our very best to do so. The most important reminder here is to create meaningful moments with co-travelers and with the locals. Never ever afraid of engaging with them. Enjoy your travel!
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Hi! It’s me! I am a hospitality professional and a part-time blogger! I am a travel dreamer and world conqueror based in Rome, Italy.