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7 Ways to be a Responsible Traveller

Posted on March 20 2018

If you’ve read about how to be eco-friendlier on a daily basis and have been sticking to your new habits as much as possible, the next step is to make sure your hard work isn’t undone the minute you go on holiday.

It can be easy to forget about anything other than relaxing and reading a good book when you jet off on your travels, however, doing your bit to save the planet is worth putting a bit of extra thought into your next holiday.

What is responsible travel/tourism?

The UN has defined sustainable tourism as: “the need to support sustainable tourism activities and relevant capacity building that promote environmental awareness, conserve and protect the environment, respect wildlife, flora, biodiversity, ecosystems, and cultural diversity, and improve the welfare and livelihoods of local communities.”

Here are some ways you can travel responsibly through being eco-friendly and ethical:

1. Think before you leave your home

Have you unplugged all appliances? Even if you switch off your TV or kettle, they can still use up energy if they’re switched on at the plug!
If you’re going away for a while, you should also consider:

- Emptying and switching off your fridge
- Turn off the water
- Stop your newspaper deliveries

2. Do your research when it comes to booking a hotel

Give your money to an eco-friendly hotel – add sustainable practices to your list of things you look for in a hotel and do some research on sites such as Responsibletravel.com and Green City Trips.

3. Flying to your Destination

If you love to travel and are concerned about your carbon footprint then there is something you can do to help. Your carbon footprint can be compensated by positive environmental contributions, such as projects that focus on planting trees  or projects that focus on reducing energy consumption in buildings.

When booking your flight ask for Carbon Offsetting - there are a few airlines that participate, including British Airways. A long haul flight costs an estimated £20 extra.

4. Support the local economy

Wherever you go, there are local, independent shops and restaurants with great food and souvenirs, so try to steer clear of big brands and chains.

In many countries it is a tradition and a social practice to haggle and is an expected method of buying goods. First, establish whether you are in a place that uses haggling as a form of buying. It would be rather insulting if, for instance, you tried to haggle with the shop assistant in Harrods of London, but very much expected if you were in The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Always be respectful to the merchant when haggling and don't argue over a few pennies for the sake of it. Remember, the merchant has to make a living too.

By doing this, you will not only help out the local community, but you’ll also be avoiding expensive, tourist hotspots, and you’ll be getting a real taste of the local culture, which is what travelling is all about!

5. Say no to plastic, just as you would at home

Recycling and waste management is a big issue in developing countries and we should be doing our best to minimise our impact when we travel to these places.

Try to keep to the same practices you have adopted at home, such as carrying your own bag and saying no to plastic bags in shops, carrying a reusable water bottle, and avoiding unrecyclable takeaway containers.

6. Love and respect animals

Many animals are put through severe stress and pain for the purposes of entertaining tourists – don’t be one of these tourists! No matter how much you want a photo of you riding an elephant for your Instagram, do not be tempted.

Do some research into the places you’re planning on visiting, and do not give any money to or participate in any activities that may harm the wildlife or that don’t care about animal welfare.

7. Use public transport

Avoid taking taxis to the next place on your itinerary – jump on a bus instead! You’ll get to see more of the place you’re visiting and it will be cheaper. You could even rent a bike if it’s possible.

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