Ethical travel maybe not for everyone — but over-tourism is ruining some of our favorite places on earth.
Perhaps, it’s time to think more carefully about where and why we go places.
You’ve been planning this trip for months. You’ve searched countless websites for travel tips, you’ve booked your accommodations, you’ve even gone as far to schedule a tour. It’s perfect.
You’ve arrived at your destination and are ready to have a good time. But you forgot one thing, your travel ethics.
What is an ethical-traveler?
I’m not talking about just being polite. I’m talking about traveling ethically. Sometimes, we get so excited about visiting the destination of our dreams that we forget to check how we can contribute to the betterment of the places we visit.
I believe an ethical traveler is someone mindful of their travel choices.
Here’s how I define ethical traveling; it is about being conscious while exploring a new destination. It’s about making sure the impact you leave is as positive as it can be.
These are my five tips to empower ethical travel
1. Support local business
It’s essential to know that when you travel, the money you spend on your trip can go to local communities. Instead of shopping at the airport or buying souvenirs from a corporation that got it from another country. Buy local.
On that same note, make sure that when you’re dining out that you visit local mom and pop restaurants. Many times during my travels, I usually go to eat where the locals eat. You can experience the culture and the people in a whole new way.
2. Communicate with locals
I have seen many travelers visit a destination without some basic manners. For example, basics such as; “Good morning,” “Thank you,” “How are you?” “May I ask you a question?”
Instead, I often see people speaking their language rapidly and expecting the locals to “get it” and show them where they have to go.
That’s not only rude, but it’s also a sense of entitlement. It’s important to remember that we are visitors and to act like a respectful guest.
3. Respect wildlife
There’s so much I could say about this. Instead, I’ll say this. The picture isn’t worth it. There are ways to be around animals and care for them. Most wild animals used in tourism may have been separated from their parents at an early age, drugged, and kept in small spaces.
National Geographic reported that “For $10, tourists can pose with [a] tiger at Phuket Zoo, in Thailand. Examples of souvenir photos are displayed on a poster board. The tiger is held by a short chain and can’t stand up. Tigers may be declawed, or even drugged, to protect people around them.”
If you love animals, find reputable sanctuaries that help care and nurse them back into the wildlife.
Stay away from products sourced by exploiting endangered wildlife or coral reefs, like turtle shells, fur, ivory, or reptilian skin.
Take a look at the CITES agreement, a document that lists the best wildlife souvenir practices. You can check where your destination country stands.
4. Dress appropriately
Please become more culturally sensitive. For example, different cultures around the world have dress codes when entering specific spaces. A simple long scarf and a long wrap skirt is always a plus. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, pay attention to the locals.
5. Explore rural environments
Visiting rural places enables you to get back in touch with nature and escape the trappings of the mundane world.
I know many people have dream vacation spots. For many, it’s in places that have constant tourism.
Part of being an ethical traveler is spending your money responsibly. That includes booking a destination that will benefit from your tourism in a way that you can see it immediately.
The bottom line
Responsible, ethical, and sustainable travelers are making it a point to support local businesses and sustainable activities.
Do you have an ethical, responsible traveling tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them. What are some ways you and your family can visit more ethically?