CONSCIOUS TRAVEL AND THE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
In a world where climate change is no longer a threat but a reality, communities and ancient traditions are being lost and overtourism is negatively impacting some of the planet’s best loved destinations, your travel choices have never been more important.
Travel with a company that reflect your ethics and beliefs
Before you set out on your travels, do your research. Look for a company who have proven sustainability and inclusion credentials or programs in place, and who offer their travellers the chance to get involved with projects that give back.
Things to look out for:
What are the company’s environmental policies? How is the company offsetting their carbon footprint, or offering eco alternative forms of transport?
What sustainability projects do the company support? Are there opportunities for travellers to get hands-on with projects or causes they care about?
What are the company’s equality and inclusion policies? How do they support LGBTQ, minority or disabled travellers?
What are the companies attitudes towards cultural appropriation? Do they offer opportunities for authentic cultural immersion that also work to support minority communities?
What are the companies policies around animal experiences? Do they offer ethical, educational experiences that seek to protect and preserve wildlife?
What pledges have the company made that prove they care about sustainability? Saying words is one thing, but they are empty without proven actions. What measures are the company taking to prove they are a sustainable and ethical travel company?
Learn about the small measures you can take to be a more responsible traveller
It all starts with you. You are ultimately responsible for your own actions, so before you travel it’s best to educate yourself on the small steps you can take to ensure you’re being a kind, compassionate and sensitive global citizen.
1. Learn about the cultures of the countries you’re visiting
Be aware of cultural differences. In Israel for example it is considered rude to shake hands with members of the opposite sex for religious reasons, whilst in Japan it will cause great offence if you leave food on your plate after a meal.
Dress according to a country’s cultural or religious beliefs. Across the Middle East, Africa, India and many South East Asian countries you’ll need to dress conservatively, covering your shoulders, chest and knees, and throughout the world when visiting religious sites you could be required to cover your head.
Learn a few key words or phrases in a destination’s native language. However badly you say them, this is always seen as a sign of respect.
Always ask before taking a photograph of someone, and be respectful of their decision if they say no.
2. Spend your money wisely
Keep traditions alive and support local artisans and small business owners. Avoid corporate chains and instead shop local, buying products that have an ethical end to end journey or that have been made through traditional methods.
Be aware of haggling and bartering. In many countries bartering for a good price is part and parcel, but also consider how your purchase impacts someone else’s livelihood. Small change to you could make the world of difference to someone else.
3. Make small, sustainable actions
Bring reusable items with you to avoid single use plastics. A reusable water bottle, Keep Cup, metal or bamboo straw, reusable cutlery and reusable bag will all help cut down your single use plastics consumption.
Keep water usage to a minimum. The global water crisis is a very real epidemic, so keep showers short and turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth.
Use public transport, walk or cycle to explore a new destination. Avoid Uber or hiring a vehicle and instead explore a new place the good old fashioned way.
Turn off the lights and switch off the air-con. Conserving energy will literally take 2 seconds of your time.
Take your trash with you. Help keep our oceans, countryside, cities and waterways clear by taking your rubbish with you, and also by picking up just a couple of trash items you see along the way.
4. Learn how to speak and act with respect
Be aware of how your language or actions could make others feel. Talk with respect about mental health issues, women, minority groups, disabled people and the LGBTQ community, and school yourself on terminology that is guaranteed to cause offence.
Consider the mental health of those around you. If someone appears stand off-ish or rude don’t immediately assume they don’t want to talk to you. They could be struggling with anxiety or shyness, and are simply scared of striking up a conversation.
Speak up. If you see someone acting inappropriately, speaking out of line or causing offence, say something either directly to them, or to your Trip Manager. Similarly if you feel as if someone has spoken or acted inappropriately towards you, tell someone and don’t suffer in silence. It’s up to all of us to look out for each other.