This travel guide was designed to help travelers make responsible choices when planning and engaging in their vacations. Learn about how you can plan a sustainable tour and travel responsibly.
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS – HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE WHILE TRAVELING
While you’re traveling, here are some ways to enhance your experience while being both responsible and conscientious:
Seek out hotels, lodges and resorts that use environmentally sensitive, renewable energy, water and waste disposal systems as well as recycled building materials or those that are harvested in a sustainable manner. Take the initiative to: reduce your water input by opting out of daily washing of linens and towels; and reduce you energy usage by turning off lights, television and air conditioners when not in use. Look for lodgings that emphasize local traditions, providing rooms and common areas that reflect the local culture and heritage.
Although bargaining is expected in many cultures, don’t pinch pennies when negotiating. You may get carried away when trying to find the best deal possible but keep in mind how this affects others. Pennies to you may mean as much as an entire family’s meal. Remember that you are probably a lot more well to do than your hosts.
Foster a true understanding of the natural and cultural environments visited, before, during, and after the visit. Choose destinations that are not over-crowded or over-developed. Read up on the communities you plan to visit ahead of time, chat with the locals, and try to speak their language. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask before taking photos and respect their wishes if they refuse.
Consider ways to improve the state of the environment as a result of your visit. For example, take into account the amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted from your air flights. You can plant trees to offset that amount or donate to an organization that will plant them for you. Calculate how much energy your travel consumes and how you might compensate for it or offset it. For more information, visit our Carbon Offsets page.
Remember that your guidebook is just that – a guide. It is not your travel bible and it doesn’t know everything. If you want to truly experience a place, head off-the-beaten-path a bit. Talk with the locals, visit the places where they spend their leisure time, and explore.
Home Away from Home
Understand that our hurried concept of time is not the same in other cultures and that local people’s thought patterns differ from your own. Learn to appreciate these differences. And think about sharing some of yourself with the local people you plan to meet. Consider packing small gifts from home for your hosts, but be sure they are of a personal and practical manner and aren’t sending the wrong message. Your travel provider should know or be in a position to ask the local community what would be of most use to them.
Protected Areas and Wildlife
Be sure to familiarize yourself and follow all advisories, rules and regulations when visiting protected areas and wildlife habitats. Whether they’re voluntary or required, the fees you pay to enter these areas support local efforts to conserve them. Stay on the trail and leave these areas cleaner than you find them. In viewing wildlife, do not disturb it or its habitats, as animals lose quite a bit of feeding and breeding energy while fleeting from human approach.
Be thoughtful of your purchases. Spending money with community or locally run/owned businesses, benefits local people, their families and communities. The money you spend on local artists and performers also encourages the preservation of their cultural heritage.
However, take care not to buy souvenirs made from old-growth trees or derived from endangered forests, such as teak. Or items made from endangered species, like ivory or tortoise jewelry. Ask whether products are made from renewable resources or if local authorities approve the trade.
And be sure not to discriminate against small-scale, community-based programs that can’t afford some of the newer, energy-efficient technologies, yet may have fewer impacts than their competitors.