A holiday is the perfect opportunity for anyone to let their hair down and let loose. However, letting loose is very different from being irresponsible. This means that regardless of where you go, whether it’s the beach, mountains, the desert, or even if you just stay at a hotel or resort, you should never be a negligent traveller. You have to respect the environment, the locals, and the customs and traditions of the place of your destination.
To be a responsible traveler (one that the locals will love), here are six of the best tips and hints:
Be environmentally conscious
Many people in various parts of the world believe that trash comes naturally with tourists. Unfortunately, there is some truth in this. A lot of travelers don’t pay attention to No Littering signs and just throw their rubbish, big and small, anywhere that is convenient for them. To be a more eco-friendly traveler, keep in mind these simple tips:
- Keep plastic or paper wrappers inside your bag or pockets and throw them in the right receptacles and not on the streets or just anywhere.
- Avoid takeaways. The plastic bags, cups, and containers just add to the local rubbish.
- Bring a BPA-free water bottle which you can use and refill over and over again. This way, you get to avoid buying and throwing away water bottles.
- If you want to go shopping, bring a cotton, canvas or strong paper bag which you can reuse over and over again to avoid using plastic bags.
Stay at an eco-friendly hotel or resort
If you can, choose a green hotel or resort since they follow environmentally safe and friendly practices and strategies in running their establishments. For instance, a popular tourist destination in India has implemented a regulation banning store-bought bottled waters as well as a sustainable waste management system for dealing with trash left by tourists. If you’re on a USA visit visa, choose a hotel that is awarded with a LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Follow energy-saving practices
Turn off all the lights, the air conditioner, TV, and other electronic appliances before leaving your room. When going around, don’t rent a car; take the local public transportation, walk, or rent and ride a bike. Avoid using the bathtub as well; take short showers whenever possible. Also, don’t use the hotel laundry services, since each guest’s clothes are washed separately even when there are only a few items. Reuse towels as long as they are still reusable. Finally, book the most direct route possible since the most flight carbon emissions are discharged during take-off and landing.
Don’t act so touristy
If you’re in a foreign place, do as the locals do. Eat in local restaurants and opt for locally branded drinks instead of the more popular brands. If you’re shopping for clothes and souvenirs, buy locally made products or those made by native artists or craftsmen so that you can aid them financially and, at the same time, you help preserve their culture.
Keep your distance from wildlife
Although you may badly want to get a photo with that kangaroo since you are on an Australia visit visa, keep a respectful distance since this can be dangerous. Don’t feed wildlife unless an authorized tourist guide asks you to. This is because giving food to animals can make them habituated to and reliant on humans. This can also lead to attacks and death for the animal.
Take the time to know the local culture, traditions, and language, if possible
Lastly, you’ll be more respectful and even comfortable if you have a good idea of the customs of the locals in your country of destination. You would do well to be familiar with their native language as well. Spanish, for instance, is worth learning if you’re traveling to Spain or South America. It is one of the most spoken languages in the world as well so you won’t go wrong with learning it, even if your holiday is over.
Even if you’re on a holiday, you can still enjoy your vacation and care for the environment, the locals, and the customs and traditions at the same time. Just become a more mindful and responsible tourist.
Bevan Berning is an Immigration professional and owner of Pathway Visas, an Immigration Agency dealing mostly with skilled immigration to Canada and Australia. Bevan’s enthusiasm for the industry has kept in the Immigration field for the past seven years. Bevan is South African by birth and has been residing in Dubai for the past eight years.