Meaningful Experiences while Travelling Responsibly
In a recent study of more than 500 travelers conducted by Phocuswright and Tourism cares, 64% felt that giving back to the destination they visit contributed positively to their overall trip experience. What could be better than taking a trip that makes your heart feel good?
Even before you proactively think about giving back, your presence and buying power in the destination can also have a positive effect. By traveling with a tour operator that utilizes local guides and businesses, part of the money spent on your vacation is going back into the community. Here are some other ways you can be a responsible traveler and enhance your travel experience.
1. Buy local when in destination - Shopping at a local market or local artisans puts money back into the local economy and also gives you a more cultural experience. When booking your vacation use a tour operator that utilizes local guides. They know the history, culture and topography of the area. This will give you more of an authentic understanding of the destination. Be respectful when bargaining. In lots of destinations bargaining is expected. Try to find a balance so that the price is fair for both you and the vendor.
"Pisaq Market"by Kevin Taois licensed under CC BY 2.0
2. Research local customs. Some attractions like churches, monastaries and temples require a dress code. In some cultures shoes will need to be removed inside. Be respectful of this and do as the locals do.
"Temple" by Matthias Hiltner is licensed under CC BY 2.01.
3. Be thoughtful of interactions with children (especially street children) – It’s best not to buy goods or services from kids as a general rule. Giving money, candy, gifts to children encourages begging and often stops them from going to school. In some destinations children often sell trinkets or sell their services as a guide instead of going to school. It is best to check with us or your travel guide ahead of time to see if there is a better way to help out the children in that area. Giving to school lunch programs, reading to kids or volunteering with an after school program are some examples.
"Lake Nkuruba Kids" by Dylan Walters is licensed under CC BY 2.0
4. Be respectful when taking pictures of locals – Before taking pictures, be it individuals or groups, interact with them and ask permission.
5. Be responsible when interacting with local wildlife – choose a tour operator that has an animal welfare policy. Many destinations have sanctuaries that can be a much better option than an animal tourist attraction or a zoo.
"Zebras, Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary (11)"by Richard Mortelis licensed under CC BY 2.0
Eating in local restaurants, utilizing local tour guides, dealing with local shop owners and immersing yourself into the local culture can make for an amazing travel experience.