what you can do
If everyone was to follow the below steps, the world of tourism would be a much more enjoyable place! Some of it may seem self-explanatory, but it's surprising how many people consider their holiday as a time to ignore all the rules. Please read and think about these for the next time you go on holiday, whether within the UK or abroad.
what you can do pre-challenge
You have a very important role to play in ensuring our guidelines for responsible tourism are carried out during the challenge. Participants are encouraged to enter into the spirit of adventure, but to do so with respect for the places and people you visit. For the truly responsible traveller this starts at home.
remove all unnecessary packaging
Many countries do not have the same refuse disposal systems as you are used to. A challenge can cause a
surprising amount of waste. We ask that you all do as much as possible to minimise this, and to see that rubbish is disposed of responsibly. Be particularly aware of the problems of disposing of batteries, if in doubt bring them home with you.
read about the destination you are going to in advance
Knowledge of the local culture and environmental issues will help you become a more sensitive traveller. See the Fact File for more information, and the reading list in the Q&A Sheet for your challenge.
learn a few words of the local language
A few well-chosen words will go a long way. If you are able to communicate even at a very modest level you will feel more comfortable in the environment you are in and put your hosts at ease. Basic words are included in the Q&A sheet.
raise money for a local charity
If you would like to take part in one of our challenges and would like to raise money for a local cause in the country that you are visiting, you can support one of the many UK or Irish registered charities who work
internationally. This way, the funds you raise will benefit the host country. Visit the Associated Charities section on our website and click through to the charities listed under International Aid.
what you can do whilst on the challenge
During the challenge is when you will have the biggest influence on the environment, so this is your chance to
minimise the negative impact and to make it as positive as possible for all involved.
be conservative with water
In many places, water is a scarce resource and without careful use, local people and wildlife suffer. We always
provide a generous amount of clean drinking water on our challenges, so you do not need to continually buy bottles of water, which generates a huge number of plastic bottles which are often buried, as recycling facilities are not available. When cleaning your teeth turn the water tap off whilst you are brushing. Dirty water used from washing either yourself or dishes should be scattered on the ground 100ft away from river sources if a drain is not available. Do not use non biodegradable soap in lakes or streams.
don't leave rubbish behind
Please take it with you. Your rubbish is not often biodegradable, is always unsightly, and may take years to
biodegrade especially in desert or mountain environments. In some instances rubbish can cause great harm to
wildlife. It may seem that local communities have little regard for their environment and contribute heavily to the problem of rubbish, but waste disposal is often very limited. Please don’t let our presence add to these problems. Please carry your rubbish with you and dispose of it at the next camp or town you come to. Try and leave the area as you would want to find it, this may include picking up other people's rubbish at your camp site. Try to use the same water bottle without buying new ones each time yours has run out.
If you must smoke, you should collect the matches and cigarette butts when finished and put them in your pocket and dispose of them properly when you get to camp. Not only does it present a fire risk, cigarette butts take many years to decompose and may harm local wildlife.
Noise should be kept to a minimum so as not to disturb the animals, or any other game watchers. Animals should not be touched, goaded, fed or disturbed in any way. Don’t try to approach animals as this may cause them to panic and injure themselves as they run away. On tours where animals are used for transportation we aim to ensure that animals are well looked after, are fed well and given realistic loads to carry
Try not to damage any plant life, which you come across. This includes not picking flowers, which might be rare.
When trekking, follow your guides and keep to the path. Going off the beaten track could result in damaging
sensitive soil and vegetation. Removing coral damages the marine ecosystem and is nearly always unsustainable. If you are near coral, please bear in mind it is made up of tiny animals and takes centuries to grow. Treading on coral can cause severe long-term damage.
If you wish to take gifts of books or pens for use in schools, please ask your challenge leader how this can be done in a fair and responsible way. It may be possible to visit a school at some point in the challenge that Charity Challenge supports through client donations. Buying products made from endangered species threatens their existence. Remember, in most cases it is illegal to import into the UK products from elephant ivory, rhino horn, furs, endangered tree species, butterflies, orchids, cacti, coral, sea turtle products, snake skin and wild game meat. Similarly, when on the beach, don't buy shells because that encourages the seashell trade. Do not be tempted to buy ancient artifacts such as pottery, which possibly were stolen from graves or unexplored tombs etc. Be aware that some goods may be manufactured through child labour.
Most challenges begin and end in a hotel. When you stay in at your hotel please turn off air conditioning and lights when you are not in the room. Also ask the challenge leader to talk to hoteliers about towel washing option and please use the towels more than once rather than asking for (or allowing) them to be washed every day.
Many of our challenges will take you off-the-beaten track, there are often a lack of toilet facilities. On treks it is unlikely you will have a flushing toilet. Instead a toilet tent will be erected and a pit dug. The pit should be dug at least 30m away from any water sources, and any paper rubbish should be collected and burnt, not buried. If you are out for the day and no toilet is available please ask your challenge leader what the appropriate action is and ensure you don’t leave any paper waste behind. Where a toilet is provided, please use it, as opposed to finding your own rock to crouch behind. Only if there is no risk of fire use toilet paper and burn it but ask the challenge leader first.. Toilet paper is unsightly and takes a long time to break down.
As well as impacting upon the physical environment, tourism can have a huge and lasting impact on the people and culture of the country you are visiting. By following local guidelines and by being respectful of culture and traditions, you will gain as much out of the challenge as possible and hopefully leave behind a positive impression.
you may be confronted by extremes of wealth and poverty
Unfortunately, beggars are a fact of life – some are genuine, others are trying to cash in on the tourist trail. Whether you give money or gifts is a personal matter. If you give anything to any local people, try not to be 'condescending', e.g. don't throw pens out of the vehicle to children as you pass a village. Don’t give sweets to children. Although it may seem as though you are giving them a treat, many countries we visit have little or no dental care, and by giving sweets you are contributing to their tooth decay. It will also encourage children to beg and s ee tourists as little more than a source of sweets and treats. Don’t show off your relative wealth, with displays of money and material goods such as camera equipment or jewellery. It’s not only making you a potential target to be robbed but is also highlighting the poverty gap that may exist between yourselves and those in the host country.
Tipping is perfectly acceptable and can form the base of the local economy, with some relying mainly on tips. Your challenge leader will advise you on tour when and how much is appropriate, and refer to your Q&As. Please feel free to take with you pens books, pencils etc but please give them to your challenge leader to distribute and not directly to children or communities you meet as this may build expectations and can create problems for future travellers.
Prices are generally low due to low wages and poor working conditions. Only start to bargain if you intend to buy, as it’s not fair to knowingly mislead a hardworking vendor. When bargaining for goods, please bear in mind that 10 cents is nothing to you, but might be a lot to the vendor. Always have a figure in mind that you think is fair to pay and don’t feel aggrieved if you find the same product for less. Don’t get angry or aggressive when bargaining remember the vendor is just trying to make a living, even though it may be at your expense.
locally made goods
Do not buy endangered plants, animal skins, or anything made from cacti, coral, shells, starfish, ivory, fur or
feathers. We encourage you however to buy locally made goods and crafts and seek out shops or markets that
work as co-operatives. This means that a fair amount is paid to the producers and discourages mass-production. You may also be able to buy more unique goods and souvenirs. When in markets or busy areas, avoid public displays of wealth such as watches, rings, jewelry and ipods. The golden rule of traveling is if you don’t need it, don’t take which is especially true for jewellery.
Respect local customs and follow high standards of courtesy. Treat images of the heads of state with respect. Be aware of the differences in social behaviour and behave appropriately. Standards of acceptable behaviour vary greatly from place to place, and people of developing countries can often be easily shocked by 'western' behaviour. Displays of intimacy are often considered not suitable in public. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. So if you say you are going to write, do. Learn some words in the local language to help make contact and conversation.
Ask permission before taking someone's photo. Many people don’t like having their photo’s taken and there may be religious reasons for this. Don’t pay children for photos’ as it will encourage them to beg. If they have the opportunity to go to school they may not to be so willing to do so if they can make money from tourists by looking cute. Be cautious when taking photos of bridges, official buildings, persons in uniform, planes and airports, or religious buildings and ceremonies. Ask your challenge leader for advice if unsure.
Acceptable physical contact and body language varies in different destinations. Knowing the social norms in the
destinations you are travelling through will help you to avoid embarrassing situations and enhance your chances of meeting the locals.
local dress code
Observe the local dress code in the areas in which you are travelling, e.g. cover up in holy places. Local people can feel deeply offended when visitors do not observe the dress code and this can also cause unwanted attention. Respect property and their surroundings. Leave places you visit as you found them, or even better. Ensure you know the appropriate behaviour for the situation you are in, for example, ask your tour leader if it is essential to remove your shoes before entering a building.
treat local staff with respect and humility
No matter what their role is on your challenge. We aim to ensure every person involved in the challenge has a fair wage and has the right to work in safe conditions. As members of the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) that sets guidelines and working conditions for porters, we aim to ensure the porters we use are treated in an acceptable way and paid fairly. Visit the IPPG website for further details www.ippg.net about porters’ rights and working conditions or talk to your challenge leader.
don’t have any involvement with drugs or prostitution
Not only are both illegal in most countries we visit, but the trade presents real dangers for the people involved,
many of whom are forced to do so against their will.
what you can do post-challenge
If you promise to send photos back to someone please ensure you do so. This is an excellent way of sharing a
positive interaction and many locals love to see themselves in print.