According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, worldwide inbound tourism increased by 4% in the first nine months of 2016, whereas the number of worldwide outbound trips grew by 3.9% in the first eight months, according to the World Travel Monitor® results. In 2015, worldwide outbound trips increased by 4.5%. The growing numbers obviously indicates a good thing, but not entirely. We often overlook the negative impact that it leaves on the world- And unfortunately, many travellers don’t realize how they’re contributing to the damage.
With hotels, resorts, restaurant chains and other tourism developments mushrooming just about everywhere around the world (especially to accommodate mass tourism), many cultures are at risk of fading out into the background. The local’s welfare is harmed as more sophisticated businesses trump local ones. Not only that, but travelling is also damaging to the environment too. From energy consumption, to the waste produced, to the depleting of natural resources.
However, you don’t need to deprive yourself of wanderlust entirely. You just need to be more mindful about travelling. By simply being a responsible traveller, you can make a difference. It can help minimize the impact of travel as well create a more meaningful experience for you- Seriously. It’s just a matter of choice.
Here’s how you can be a responsible traveller:
Do a little homework beforehand
Doing some research about the places you want to travel to, is very important. Find out about your destination’s cultures and traditions as well as their social state. Learn some things about their customs and their language so that you can better communicate with them too. Understand that each one of them is unique and beautiful in their own way just as yours is.
Opt to stay in homestays or locally run accommodations
Instead of staying in a 5-star hotel and eating out at a restaurant chain, try staying at a homestay or a locally run guesthouse. It may not be living the lush life, and you may be depriving yourself certain comforts, but how can you really experience the real meaning of authentic travel if you allow yourself to be cooped up in a fancy hotel room? Staying with a local allows you to get to know their stories and culture better. It will be an eye-opening experience and nothing less than authentic.
Avoid attractions that are detrimental
It’s time to be more aware of tourist traps and attractions that only do more harm. These activities are unethical and they can involve animals, like elephant riding and tiger selfies as well as attractions like orphanage tourism.
Buy local and support the local economy
Supporting the local economy is also very much encouraged when you are travelling because you will be directly contributing to the locals’ income. So instead of buying your souvenirs like handcrafts and other goods from big commercial stores, buy them directly from a local, especially locals who make or craft the goods themselves! Also, hire a local guide who will have incredible knowledge about your destination as it makes your travels much more meaningful. There’s definitely more value in that.
- Respect the environment
What every traveller should bear in mind when they travel. Our planet is our home, so it’s our job to take care of it and be mindful about all our natural resources, no matter where we are in the world. Especially when you visit conservation areas, stick to the areas and paths that are only open to visitors and stay away from the restricted areas. There’s a reason why they’re ‘restricted’. Just remember this when you’re travelling, “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”.
Be an informed and respectful traveller
Study and understand the laws of the places you are travelling to because they don’t all have the same laws and regulations. Respect human rights, especially the rights of the local people and children. Also, not forgetting the cultures and belief of others. If you want to help a community out, it’s best to get involved in a community project rather than handing out charity as the projects will make a greater impact in the long-run.
Well that’s our take on how to be a more mindful traveller. Whether or not you choose to travel responsibly is entirely up to you. Just know that it’s not as difficult as you make it to be. We’re just raising some issues that could probably make a whole lot of difference to your experiences and the impact you make wherever you travel to. This will especially make a bigger impact if more people start to get the idea.