Responsible travel encompasses a variety of areas including environmental, social and economic. It doesn't mean you have to give up that beautiful view on the beach and eat out of cans everyday, it just requires you to choose an alternative method that doesn't degrade the environment, the country's economy or the people that live there. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind next time you plan to travel.
1. Learn the basic customs or etiquette of the culture you'll be surrounded by. For example tipping, punctuality, hand gestures, dress code
2. Support local businesses. Beware of tourist shops that get all their products overseas.
3. Be respectful about taking photos. Use your own judgement, but asking is always the best way to go.
4. Stay at an Airbnb or locally run hostel/hotel. Not only are they a great way to have an authentic experience, but they support the local economy, unlike big chain hotels.
5. Research tours before signing up. This can be tricky because a lot of the outdoor trips can feel natural and safe, but many times they can degrade the environment if paths weren't created consciously or animals were mistreated. (We all know the dark side of elephant tourism in parts of Asia)
6. If air travel is inevitable, try to get a direct flight.
7. Otherwise, take a bus or train (much lower carbon footprint than planes and cars)
8. Respect the environment. Don't touch the coral or wild animals, leave the place better than you found it.
9. Fly with smart airlines. With a new era of consciousness, many airlines are taking the initiative to reduce their emissions. Especially since they are one of the biggest contributors to green house gases. Look for ones that have developed a mission in regards to recycling, waste reduction, alternative fuel and carbon offset programs.