8 Signs That You’re a Responsible Traveler

8 Signs That You're a Responsible Traveler

Having the option to hop on a plane to the other side of the world is a privilege. At a minimum, you’ll come home from that trip to Peru next month with a collection of stories for your friends and family. Some trips go beyond that, permanently changing your lifestyle or perspective. For example, since leaving China, my once-favourite Dim Sum restaurant in London hasn’t seemed nearly half as good – but at least my relationship with chopsticks has improved.

And that’s the thing with travel: it’s a give and take situation – and, let’s be honest, we usually do more taking than giving. So the big question is, as privileged but conscious travelers, do we have the responsibility to give something back to the places we visit? The answer is yes, we do. And the first step is to be a responsible traveler.

But what does this really mean? To make sure you’re travelling responsibly, here are a 8 steps you should take before, during, and after your trip.

Are local communities financially gaining from my trip?

  1. Be conscious when spending money and always try to support locally-owned businesses, such as restaurants and guesthouses. Even buying your souvenirs from local artisans is a great way to give back to the communities you visit.

Am I respecting local communities?

Understanding local customs isn’t an easy process – it takes time and effort. There is no science behind getting this right and whilst you’re not expected to “go local” right away, you should have the basics covered before visiting a new place.

  1. Before you travel, educate yourself on your chosen destination’s history, social norms, values and religious beliefs.
  2. Be observant, if you’re the only one wearing shorts in a temple, for example, chances are, you’re doing something wrong.
  3. Be aware of both the long and short term consequences of your actions. Giving money to beggars may soothe your conscience for a few minutes, but are you contributing to a vicious cycle of dependency on unsustainable practices? If you truly feel compelled to help, identify a reputable local NGO and ask how you may do so.
  4. Community-based tourism is a great tool for generating sustainable income within the communities you’re visiting. Book directly with local guides or through ethically conscious companies like Keteka.

Am I harming wildlife, animals or the environment?

  1. Appreciate wildlife and animals from a distance and in their natural habitats. The rules are simple – any activity involving wild animals in captivity is a big NO and you should avoid anything that damages or alters their natural environment.
  2. Don’t litter – if you can’t find a bin take your trash with you.
  3. Minimize your footprint and travel by land whenever possible – planes use a LOT of fuel.

8 Signs That You're a Responsible Traveler

There’s no doubt that the most beautiful travel moments are unplanned – the great restaurant you accidentally find on your way home, the hidden beach you stumble upon during your morning walk, and the amazing people you meet by chance. Being a responsible traveler isn’t about losing these moments – it’s about embracing them consciously, and sharing the enjoyment with the local community.