Responsible Travel: 9 Ways to Preserve Destinations We Love
Tourism is on the rise everywhere with tourist arrivals hitting a high of 1.6 billion in 2018. This is great news for travel professionals, but it also presents some very real difficulties for the destinations we love. The overwhelming number of tourists flocking to popular destinations threatens the lifestyle of locals. It can even lead to the destruction of beloved monuments and natural landmarks. While the solutions for tourism-related concerns can’t totally be boiled down into a few bullet points to “know before you go,” responsible travel is a huge step in the right direction. As a travel advisor, you have the power to encourage and promote responsible travel. What responsible travel practices do you follow while abroad?
Here are a few to keep in mind:
1. Be an educated traveler
Learn as much as you can about your destinations before you go. Know the local laws and customs. Research the history, current political climate, and environmental concerns. If you can learn in advance, but remain teachable as you go, you will be more prepared to interact in a respectful, responsible manner.
2. Treat your destination like it’s someone’s home
…because it is! Some cities are bursting at the seams with history — filled with buildings and monuments older than your home country. It can be so easy to get caught up in the magic of seeing these things we forget that these places are other people’s homes, workplaces, and churches. Remember you are a guest!
3. Leave it better than you found it
Cleaning up after yourself and picking up trash are practical ways to do this. But travel also provides an amazing opportunity for connecting with and uplifting other people. Be encouraging, helpful, and kind as you travel. Consider spending some time volunteering or doing humanitarian work on your trip. Take the time to listen and understand the locals. Take home a fresh perspective.
4. Go green
Going green might not be as convenient or luxurious. It might require some small financial investments like buying a reusable water bottle with a portable filter. It might require you to bring your own toiletries or see the city by bike or on foot. Eventually, making greener choices becomes second nature and you can even learn how to save money doing it.
5. Mind your money
Whenever you make a purchase, you are casting a vote for industries and practices that you want to exist. Unfortunately, some tourism experiences have negative impacts on the local environment or wildlife. Carefully research your excursions and experiences and choose to support the ones that have sustainable practices in place.
6. Find alternative destinations
Consider spending all or part of your trip at an under-the-radar destination such as one of these. You’ll enjoy smaller crowds, lower prices, and you’ll have some truly unique stories to bring back home.
7. Avoid peak seasons
Still can’t get popular cities like Copenhagen off your mind? Travel when the busiest days of tourist season are over. You can save a lot on your airfare and lodging by booking your travel during low and shoulder seasons. Try these cities in the spring or these destinations for great fall foliage.
8. Don’t “do it for a picture”
Social media holds more power in the travel world than we’ve even fully realized. It is an amazing marketing tool for small business. It’s an awesome way to discover unique things to see and try before you go. But like all things we enjoy, wisdom and moderation are imperative. The obsession with getting the perfect shot has led to a sharp uprise in photography-related safety incidents. Yes, you read that right. While attempting to snap a breathtaking shot on the edge of a cliff or sneaking a selfie with wild animals, travelers are breaking local laws, destroying property, getting injured or even killed. An Instagram photo is not worth your life. And reckless behavior while traveling could eventually cause some of our favorite landmarks to be permanently altered or closed.
9. Slow down
Travel isn’t a competition. We travel to learn, to relax, to stretch ourselves, and to connect with other cultures. Keep your why in front of you wherever you go. Actually enjoy the places you go, slowly and thoughtfully — don’t just get there, take a picture and buy the t-shirt. When you adopt a slower, more intentional mindset as you travel, you will be more aware of how your actions, words, and decisions impact others.