With responsible travel becoming a buzz phrase in the tourism sector at the moment, we thought we would put together a Top 5 Tips for travelling in a sustainable way, whether you find yourself in Brighton or Beijing! The environment, and in many cases, your pocket, will thank you for following these rules!
Instead of paying a fortune and dealing with the hassle of airport security, get on
to the road or rails in public transport and enjoy the views of stunning countryside, mountains, jungle or sea that you will be missing in the air. Not only will this reduce the carbon footprint of your travels, but it also adds to your travel experience by giving you more opportunities to interact with the locals. I still have the drawing that a local street artist gave me on a bus journey through northern Argentina, simply for taking the time to speak to him along the way. And don’t forget that the Great British countryside is just as spectacular as a long-haul trip, so think about taking more holidays locally and enjoying the beautiful South Downs, trekking in the impressive mountain ranges of the Snowdonia National Park, or surfing the Cornish coast.
Get adventurous and eat locally produced food on your travels. Even if guinea pig or fish eyes don’t take your fancy, you don’t need to resort to westernized food to enjoy yourself. Eating local produce is a delicious and economic way to make your holiday a positive force on the local economy, involving the locals actively in the tourism sector as well as providing valuable jobs and skills. Don’t just let this stop with food – shop in local markets, use locally run accommodation and find out where the local, most responsible tour operators and service providers work. It’s your duty to make sure that your stay contributes something to the community that is hosting you, whether a tiny village or huge city. And you will take away hundreds of great memories!
Watch your water usage
When the subject of water comes up it does sometimes feel like flogging a dead horse, but a reduction in usage can make a crucial difference to reducing the effect of your holiday on the place that you are visiting. Instead of washing your clothes religiously, hang up swimmers and towels to make the most out of them, and if the worst comes to the worst, soak them in a sink with some handwash rather than wasting water on a full wash. Don’t leave the taps on when you’re brushing your teeth, and where possible, do try to bath rather than shower. The only exception to the water rule is when drinking – if you can purify water, do it! Don’t buy bottled water when tap water is available to drink. And drink a lot of it.
You might really want that beautifully hand-crafted rug/pot/weaving/carving, but make sure that you are
paying a fare price for the work that has gone into it. We all know that marketplace items are priced high, and it is true that paying too much for local services could induce inflation in countries which rely heavily on tourism to boost purchases, which might explain our eagerness to barter down what essentially boils down to pence for us, but make sure you keep things in
perspective. Don’t barter down for a matter of cents something that to the seller could bring in a day’s wage. Make sure you think about where the money is going – is it someone who lives off everything that they sell in a day, or will it be going to higher management? A quick reflection on how much the same good would cost in the UK will also bring you back down to earth with a bump.
As trite as it sounds, don’t rely on your I-Pad for entertainment. Get off your phone/I-Pod/I-Pad/computer and take the time to speak to people, look out of the window and get
stuck into your surroundings. You will probably be surprised at how much you enjoy the break from being dragged into reading emails and checking Facebook updates, and relish the feeling of being able to go wherever you want, and the pace that you want to get there. And another thing – forget mobile phone GPS! Use your brain to figure out where you are – buy a map or a
guide book, check bus stops and sign posts, and ask a local! You don’t need technology to orient you, and getting around without technology these days will be a great achievement. The only thing you need is a camera!
To learn more about all our charity challenges, and find out how else we get involved with responsible tourism. Please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com, and to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.