Responsible travel is a commonly used term nowadays, but sometimes all the talk of negative impacts of tourism can seem a bit overwhelming when all you want to do is enjoy your hard-earned travels! The good news is that responsible travel is not complicated and you can still have a great time, with a clear conscience, by following a few simple tips to ensure that future travelers will find a place as welcoming and magical as you did.
1. Keep an open mind. Embracing other cultures will transform your trip and help you earn the respect and welcome of the local people. Be tolerant and respectful, making sure to observe social and cultural traditions and practices. This will help to ensure that the door is kept open for other future travelers.
2. Help preserve natural environments. Leave things the way you found them – or better still, get involved in a project that will leave a place in better shape than you found it. Protect wildlife and habitats and do not purchase products made from endangered plants or animals.
3. Respect cultural resources. Activities should be conducted in a way that respects the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage of a place.
4. Support the local economy. Purchase local handicrafts and products, rather than mass produced souvenirs (and you’ll have something unique and authentic as a lasting momento of your trip). Bargaining for goods should be based on achieving a fair price, rather than a determination to get the lowest price possible. You don’t want to get ripped off, but it’s worth remembering that the merchant probably needs the difference more than you do.
5. Learn as much as possible about your destination and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions in an effort to avoid accidentally offending anyone. Not only will this make your trip much more enjoyable, but it will also make a huge difference to how future travelers are viewed by the local population.
See more about Hosteling International New Zew Zealand ( I am life time member – that tells you what I think of the organisation!)