Unfortunately, in our quest to have a great holiday, some of us may not be mindful of making sure we don’t cause any harm to the places we visit.
Taken to the extreme, irresponsible travelling can cause a lot of damage.
The Philippines, for example, recently took the drastic step of closing its beautiful Boracay island for six months to rehabilitate the area.
The high number of tourists and rapid development had taken a toll on the popular destination.
Being a responsible traveller means we should try to minimise the negative impact we leave on the places we visit – economically, environmentally and socially.
Here are 4 things to consider when planning a trip:
Choose eco-friendly accommodation
To be kinder to the environment, choose hotels or resorts that adopt sustainable practices.
These hotels should have lower energy and water use, and practise recycling and composting to reduce food waste.
They should also advocate the use of sustainable food by including as much local and seasonal produce as possible.
Search the web for available options at your destination.
2. Be culturally sensitive
This can be as simple as learning enough of the local language so you can say hello or thank you to the people you encounter.
You should also be aware of any sensitivities with regards to appropriate dress codes.
For example, many places of worship will require you to cover up before you enter the premises.
And make it a point to ask for permission before taking any photographs of the locals.
Many of them are happy to oblige if you take the time to connect with them.
3. Support ethical local initiatives
You may want to visit animal sanctuaries or orphanages to show your support for the local community but do make sure these places are run ethically.
Many of them do more harm than good as the animals may not be treated well, or the kids may not be orphans after all.
If you want to visit a sanctuary, make sure it’s registered as an NGO (non-governmental organisation) and is transparent about its business operations.
Alternatively, you can support initiatives that help the local community out in the long term, such as dining at restaurants that hire and train at-risk or marginalised youth.