Original blog post featured on The Journal by Intrepid.
It’s no secret that we love travelling. But we figure that if we’re to spend our days exploring the world, the right thing to do is travel with the world in mind.
In our books, being a ‘good’ traveller means being a responsible traveller. We know, having responsibilities while travelling doesn’t sound like fun but it’s easy to do (and we’re all better off for it too).
So, here are a few easy tips for being a better traveller:
1. Slow down the pace
The world is a big place, and you’re never going to appreciate it by trying to cram too much in. Stop rushing around and take time to look around wherever you find yourself. Spend that little bit longer getting to know a city or town.
Responsible travel tip: take local transport, ride a bike or spend a day exploring on foot.
2. Talk to the locals
Want to have the most enriching experience possible? Talk to people. Talk to the cab drivers, the shop attendants, the bar staff, the guy selling fish at a street stall – talk to as many people as you can. You’ll learn so much more about the culture, the history, the food…
Responsible travel tip: learn a few words of the local language. People will appreciate it – even if the pronunciation isn’t right.
3. Put your camera away
Don’t spend your entire trip looking through the lens of a camera. Do that, and you’ll miss the real world and perhaps find that when you return home and look through your snaps, there’ll be some places that you don’t really remember being at.
Responsible travel tip: Take a moment to get to know the locals you meet, and always ask permission before taking someone’s picture.
4. Know where you are
Wherever you’re travelling, try to have some idea of what the culture’s like and read about significant historical events. You’ll gain greater empathy for the people you meet and skip those easy to avoid cultural faux pas that can make people feel uncomfortable.
Responsible travel tip: spend some time researching the local culture and look up the latest news about the destination before visiting.
5. Refill your water bottle
While it may not always be convenient, we encourage you to avoid buying plastic bottles of water. Otherwise, look to buy larger bottles if you must purchase water. If you’re unsure of the water quality and keen to go a step further, you can sterilise your water with a steripen or through boiling methods.
Responsible travel tip: pack your drink bottle. Check with your hotel or your guide as to whether filtered water dispensers are available during your trip.
6. Reduce your use of plastic bags
Plastic bags are toxic for the environment. They kill animals that mistake the bags for food. They clog up waterways and are one of the largest contributors to landfill on the planet. In short, plastic bags are incredibly harmful.
Responsible travel tip: say no to plastic when shopping in markets and take your own reusable bag.
7. Think like a local
Support local stores and vendors, eat where the locals go and try to stay in places that support the local economy. That doesn’t necessarily mean living like a local, but it might mean thinking like a local.
Responsible travel tip: shop for locally made products and support local businesses that make a direct contribution to the economy.
8. Dress for comfort and respect
While it might be okay for you to bare it all at home, in many countries it is disrespectful to show too much skin, especially in places of worship.
Responsible travel tip: be prepared to cover your shoulders and knees, and remove hats when in traditional areas and places of worship.
9. Say no to animal cruelty
Travellers are more aware than ever of the mistreatment of animals in activities like elephant riding safaris, cub petting and walking with lions.
Responsible travel tip: say no to activities that involve physical interaction with animals. When viewing animals in the wild, keep your distance and make sure you don’t crowd them.
10. Be patient
It’s easier said than done but this travel tip is an all-rounder that comes in handy. There will be moments of frustration – airports (and getting around in general) can be a particularly potent source of travel angst. Just take it easy, try to relax, and do your best not to worry too much. BREATHE.
11. Have fun!
There’s a reason why you’ve packed your bags to go on an adventure. Leave everything behind and enjoy every moment. Try something new, be curious and take it all in.