- Saptadeepa Bandopadhyay
Simple tips to become a responsible traveller!
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
With more and more people travelling or vacationing in recent years, many places are facing the negative impact of over-tourism. Today, the ecology of a destination is threatened by the increasing number of travellers, travel agencies, hotels, inefficient waste management, etc.
So, it is no surprise and rightly the need of the hour to adopt responsible eco-friendly measures while travelling. The entire world today is experiencing the impact of climate change and so many activists have taken up the cause to stand for the environment. While we are well aware that a place can best be conserved by its government policies, we cannot just turn blind-eyes to the effects of climate disruption today.
So let us all be a little responsible for that next holiday and help the world recover from the crisis.
Here is a list of conscious efforts you can make while planning a trip or at your travel destination –
1) Be conscious about your mode of transport –
Today, with cheaper air tickets people are opting for flights instead of trains or buses. Of course, for most international destinations you do not have an option, but for the destinations inside the country or neighbouring countries, public transport could help reduce your carbon footprint on the environment.
If travel time and physical issues are not your major concern, plan to opt for trains or buses instead of flights. The only effort in opting these modes of transport is the timely planning to book your tickets a month or two before the date of journey.
2) Travel light –
This tip does not only apply for the backpacker community or people wanting to spend less on check-in luggage but for everyone.
Yes, if you are short on your leaves and cannot afford to spare more days on your vacation, you do have to opt for the air mode of transport. But did you know if you can carry fewer weights along with you, it means lower fuel consumption on your flight? So it is always wise to carry less luggage on your travel.
3) Avoid single-use plastic –
Planning and travelling a little consciously can help you avoid carrying or picking up single-use plastic on your journey.
Carry your water bottles and refill them on the way. Do not buy packaged water bottles or pouches on the way. You can avoid so much plastic waste just by carrying your own water bottle.
Carry some home-made snacks instead of buying packets of chips, cookies, biscuits, chocolates, etc. All of these will only add up to your single-use plastic waste getting dumped at the tourist destination.
Carrying a reusable straw, cutlery and your own toiletries are also a few simple steps to avoid generating plastic waste.
4) Be responsible for disposing of your waste –
Please do not try to throw your plastic or paper waste anywhere on the deserted highways. Let’s be wise in knowing that such things won’t reach the dump yards or be absorbed into the soil. Instead, it might be consumed by grazing animals or infect and pollute the water bodies in the vicinity. So, if you are not able to avoid generating waste, be conscious enough to carry your waste back to your cities where it can be segregated and disposed of responsibly.
Just be mindful to carry a disposal bag and collect all the waste generated by you to bring it back.
5) Opt for local experiences over touristy activities –
Try to explore and taste local cuisines, buy from local souvenir shops or artisans, attend flea markets instead of malls. You might wonder how does this help!
So think this way, before choosing from a known brand selling your signature burger did you wander – ‘How much of greenhouse impact it would have been to source these food items via cold storage to the tourist destinations?’ Also, they generate way more waste than the local services you can get at a destination.
On the contrary, buying handmade souvenirs will help add to the local economy. You are in turn serving local households if you purchase their goods. Also if we value the artisans and weavers, they will be encouraged to pursue their art instead of running to cities for a livelihood!
6) Avoid animal rides and amusement parks
Unfortunately, animals have been extensively used for generating revenues from tourism.
Be it a horse or elephant or camel ride, or the gigantic underwater aquarium, sports by sea animals, visits to animal worlds, posing with an orangutan or tiger merely for tourist entertainment is unethical and abusive to the animals.
In most of these places, the animals are treated poorly and unfed so that they obey the masters and follow instructions. You can read more over the internet about these. Also, the aquatic animals which you see in those giant aquariums are actually trapped to be roaming in the vicinity of the glass enclosures.
If you are really fond of animals try to visit them in their habitats or shelter homes. Visit the national parks or take up forest safaris. Also, there are many shelters where endangered or rescued animals are cared and preserved. You can join them for your service. But it is important you verify their authenticity before visiting.
7) Opt for local homestays instead of Hotels / Resorts –
Luxury is of topmost priority when it comes to the hospitality and tourism industry. In this quest to provide the best of services, often hotels provide you with necessary amenities even if the locals are facing a scarcity. Our unrealistic food demands, 24/7 water and electricity supply demands may be at the cost of the power cuts from the local residents.
On the other hand, if we opt for a local’s home-stay, we contribute to their financial needs, learn more about the local lives, understand the local’s difficulties and use resources wisely.
We can even contribute to their day to day activities or learn a new skill or recipe from the locals.
Adapting all these steps might be too overwhelming for the first time. So we can try to be conscious and pick up one option at a time. Later with every travel, we will be better a version of our self.
And at times if you feel guilty of a certain scenario, make sure to be conscious and make a mental note of it. Find a way how you can avoid it.
None of us is perfect but every effort counts!
But if you ever happen to feel why I need to do all of this, tell yourself that you are definitely privileged to have got a basic education, have basic amenities and the luxury to visit a place apart from your hometown. So it is your basic duty to be a responsible tourist and contribute to the well-being of the destination you were privileged to visit.