It’s not always easy to be a responsible traveller and you don’t have to devote your every travel moment to it. However it is important to do your research and keep in mind how you can be a responsible traveller. Which countries you decide to travel to, which accommodations you choose, where you decide to eat, how you opt to travel around and the activities you choose – all have an impact on the destination you visit.
Here are 10 simple ways that you can be a responsible traveller:
1. Volunteer your time: Whether you are travelling for a short trip or an extended tour, volunteering a portion of your time to worthwhile causes and with reputable organisations can make a world of difference. Always make sure to check on the conservation and sustainability opportunities available within the country you hope to visit.
Many hotel chains such as Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts have a wide range of property specific conservation programmes that you can volunteer at – from preparing a meal with the local villagers using produce from an organic garden at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana or spending time at the Leopard Conservation project at Cinnamon Wild Yala.
2. Shop Locally – This is one of the easiest way to be a responsible traveller. While you are on your travels, do consider where you want to spend your money when it comes to food, souvenirs, clothing, etc. One of the best ways to make a positive impact on the country you’re visiting is to purchase products that are locally grown or sourced.
When it comes to eating meals out, check out the streetside vendors! Most likely, it’ll be the most authentic, tasty food you’ll have on your travels.
Visit the many factories located in Sri Lanka where you can see handicrafts being made in front of your eyes, as well as be able to support the local supply chain, by purchasing these products.
3. Think before you partake in wildlife activities: When making plans for an overseas travel, a lot of people have dreams of riding elephants, swimming with dolphins or having their photos taken with tigers, but these irresponsible activities often do more harm than good. It is best to avoid such activities as it is harmful to the animals and are unethical practices when these majestic creatures are taken out of their natural environment for entertainment. Do your research and just say no.
4. Respect the Culture & Customs of the country you are visiting: This is one of the most important parts of how to be a responsible tourist. There are two things to be mindful of eco-sustainability as well as respecting the culture and customs of the destinations you travel to.
Always do your research before you travel so you have responsible travel tips to learn from. In Sri Lanka, it is considered respectful to wear modest clothing when visiting temples and other cultural sites. Also taking ones footwear off before entering such sites and not taking photos with a Buddhist statue with having your back facing it, are some things to be mindful of.
5. Stay in Sustainable Accommodation: Always choose accommodation in places such as Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts which are locally owned and contribute to the economy of the country in a positive way – through a support structure of local staff. Also look at the sustainability initiatives your choice of accommodation has and what impact it has on local livelihoods. The Cinnamon Leopard project funds local farmers to purchase steel pens that will protect their cows from leopard attacks. This assists the farmers to sustain their livelihood while protecting the leopards from danger of being killed.
6. Watch Your Waste: Plastic waste has become a huge epidemic in this century. One of the simplest ways you can travel responsibly and avoid contributing to plastic waster in the country you are visiting, is to pack reusable clothe bags that you can take to the shops locally. Also pack a couple of reusable straws and cutlery with you and use them when need be. Or you can request this at the hotel you are staying at. Most hotels are now working toward being plastic free.
7. Be Mindful of Your Carbon Footprint – Responsible travel can be difficult if you have to fly to the country you plan to visit. At the very least, if you travel on a direct flight you’ll reduce the carbon emissions (Research suggests that taking off and landing are the worst). Another responsible traveller tip is to choose to do overland travel when you can, instead of using flights.
8. Don’t Bargain So Hard – Many of us start travelling with the objective of being cautious with or trying to save as much money as we can while on our journey. This also means bargaining for items, whether its food and souvenirs at a market, or local transport. Bargaining is fine as long as you are responsible, don’t bargain too hard and understand that locals livelihoods depend on the handicrafts you purchase.
9. Visit Lesser Known Places – With travel becoming mainstream, and overtourism on the rise, it’s important to think about how you can be a responsible traveller and not contribute to the numbers visiting a site. Tourist sites are popular for a reason, but you should also focus on visiting sites that are less well known and off the beaten path, so you steer clear of over populating a tourist sites. Especially in a Post COVID 19 world – avoiding crowded sites is a responsible travel tip.
10. Educate others to be responsible travellers: Being a responsible traveller might come naturally to some, but others may just not be aware of the implications their actions when traveling abroad. If you see travellers unintentionally doing something that is negative to the environment or to local people and culture, you can tell them in a friendly way.
It is only through education that we can help spread the word about sustainable tourism.