When we visit beautiful places it's natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and their environments.
Responsible travel is about more authentic holiday experiences that enable you to get a little bit more out of your travels, and give a little bit more back to destinations and local people. All holidays have positive and negative impacts locally.
Responsible travel maximises the benefits, and minimises the negative effects of tourism.
Below you can find our tips for responsible travel before you book, before you travel, whilst on holiday and when you get back...
Choose a responsible operator
Ask to see the tour operator's policy for responsible tourism. All responsibletravel.com members have to have one. Make sure it explains how they minimise environmental impacts and support the local economy.
Ask your hotel/accommodation our 10 simple questions to see if they really are eco!
Reduce your carbon emissions
We believe you should reduce the amount you fly, rather than flying the same as before and offsetting. Read more on our carbon caution
Simple ways to do this -
When you fly, make it count
When you do fly, make it count by booking a responsible holiday that increases benefits to local communities and environments
- Take fewer and longer holidays
- Take some holidays closer to home
- Travel by train and public transport where possible
- Book direct flights avoiding transfers
- Use public transport in destinations where possible
- Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language - travelling with respect earns you respect
- Remove all excess packaging - waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries
- Ask your tour operator for specific tips for responsible travel in your destination
- Ask your tour operator/hotel if there are useful gifts that you could pack for your hosts, local people or schools
- Ask your tour operator whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and if/how you could help support them
- Buy local produce in preference to imported goods
- Hire a local guide - you'll discover more about local culture and lives, and they will earn an income
- Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts
- Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places - if in doubt ask advice or don't visit
- Use public transport, hire a bike or walk when convenient - its a great way to meet local people on their terms and reduce pollution and carbon emissions
- Use water sparingly - its very precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people
- Remember that local people have different ways of thinking and concepts of time, this just makes them different not wrong - cultivate the habit of asking questions (rather than the Western habit of knowing the answers). For more ideas on deeper and more responsible travel see here.
- Write to your tour operator or hotel with any comments or feedback about your holiday, and especially include any suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communities. You will find independent holiday reviews from travellers on many responsibletravel.com holidays.
- If you've promised to send pictures or gifts to local people remember to do so, many are promised and not all arrive!
- Why not donate to a local project in the area you’ve visited? Take a look at TravelPledge for community and environmental projects around the world.
- Enjoy the memories, reflect on your experience and start planning your next trip!
For information and ideas check out our guide to being a responsible traveller