If you are dreaming of traveling abroad to explore the world, and wondering what awaits on the other side of the journey – let me tell you, there’s more than what you can even imagine! On today’s date, as more and more people are traversing across the world – not just for leisurely holidays, but for gap years & slow travels as well – it’s important to be aware of our actions, and ensure that we don’t adversely affect the environment.
The next time you decide to set out for an adventure, make sure that the ways you travel, the places you decide to visit, and the choices you make on how you spend your money and where you can have a positive impact on communities and families that are not as fortunate as us.
Another name for it is ‘responsible travel’.
Traveling opens up the doors to a world that is both incredibly rewarding and desperately in need of our support. Here’s how you can choose to be a responsible traveler during your next vacation abroad:
- Choose to volunteer for a meaningful project while you travel abroad
Whether you are traveling for two weeks or two years, volunteering for a portion of your time with accountable and impactful organizations for worthwhile causes can make a world of difference. If you have a skill that may be useful in a developing nation, such as medical or social care experience, there are several different opportunities that can be taken up to put your skills to optimum use. Volunteering Solutions has curated some incredible opportunities across various countries where you can join and spend your time, working alongside other volunteers and supporting the host communities, to improve their way of life.
- Choose a homestay or eco-friendly accommodation
Staying in a luxurious hotel or resort is pretty expensive, and most of the time, they tend to consume an immense amount of energy and water resources. Instead, how about living with the local communities – at homestays, where you can get to know more about their culture & lifestyle, while directly contributing to their economy? It’ll be a great chance to immerse yourself in their daily lives, and of course, it’ll be more eco-friendly than staying in a hotel.
- Shop locally
When we are traveling, a major part of our money is spent on food, stay, and buying souvenirs. It’s important to choose where you spend your money because that can have a massive impact on the community. By having dinner at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, staying in a family-run guest house, or purchasing a trinket from a street vendor, you are helping to inject money directly into the local economy. And not just that, but it’ll also help you in having a more authentic travel experience – that you can never enjoy if you keep hopping from one mall to another! The next time you travel abroad – explore the street food scene, go to the local markets, travel by public transport – and you’ll have a more wholesome journey.
- Think before you interact with the wildlife
A lot of people have exotic dreams of riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, or having their photos taken with tigers — but these irresponsible activities often do more harm than good. If you are really interested in visiting a place that houses and protects animals, make sure you contact one that is a registered NGO.
Alternatively, you can always search for a volunteer project dedicated to animal welfare and conservation in the city you are planning to travel to. There are various projects that are wholly dedicated to the conservation and well-being of the animals, and you can choose to be a part of them. How about spending some days looking after rescued turtles in Sri Lanka or supporting the wildlife in a rescue center in South Africa?
- Inspire others to follow your footsteps
It’s kind of a ripple effect, and you might just end up inspiring your friends and family to follow your path.
Being a responsible traveler might come naturally to some, but others may just not be aware of the implications their actions can have when they are abroad. And if that’s the case, it may be on you to show them the way. If you see someone unintentionally doing something that is inappropriate for the environment, or to the local people and culture, consider mentioning something to them in a friendly manner. Start discussions about responsible travel with people who are in your hostel, in your hotel, or while traveling with a group of friends. It is only through education that we can help spread the word about sustainable tourism, and make a difference in the world.
No matter whether you are planning a workation abroad or just going with family for an international trip – make sure that you act as a responsible traveler. Remember that every little step you take can eventually make a huge impact.