One of my colleagues and I recently gave a presentation at Nokia’s Beijing office on ways to travel responsibly. While all of the case studies and real-life examples were taken from WildChina‘s current practices, I did some web research to find quick tips that travelers can use on their own. There’s definitely a TON of information out there, so I thought I’d share my top tips from my favorite sites.
This was by far one of the most insightful and well-written pieces I found on the internet. It highlights 50 things travelers should do to minimize the negative impacts of travel, and benefit the communities they visit. From their post:
“43. Respect Local Cultures
“Treating others the way you wish to be treated is the basic premise of responsible travel,” says Sherry Schwarz, editor and publisher, Transitions Abroad magazine and, director of the Abroad View Foundation. “It sounds simple, because it is simple: When we travel, we are visiting the homes of our global neighbors, getting to know them, and experiencing how they live.”
Schwarz suggests taking these four practical steps to “become a more conscious and conscientious traveler:”
1. Choose local guides
2. Stay in locally owned accommodations
3. Eat locally produced food
4. Respect local customs and traditions
“Only some 5 percent of the world’s population has even been on a plane,” continues Schwarz. “This is a humbling statistic that reminds me how fortunate those of us are who can travel and that we must show great respect and gratitude for the people and places we visit.””
I have to say that I felt a jolt of recognition while reading that, as WildChina feels a strong commitment to positively impacting the local communities we visit.
Use accommodations that have a reputation for being sustainable. Sustainability can mean many things: they recycle, use alternative forms of energy, are owned by or employ locals, contribute to local causes.
Ethical Traveler Guidelines
“5)BARGAIN FAIRLY, and with respect for the seller. Again, remember the economic realities of where you are. The final transaction should leave both buyer and seller satisfied and pleased. Haggling for a taxi or carpet is part of many cultures; but it’s not a bargain if either person feels exploited, diminished, or ripped-off.”
Guidebooks. Remember that your guidebook is just that – a guide. It is not your travel bible and it doesn’t know everything. If you want to truly experience a place, head off-the-beaten-path a bit. Talk with the locals, visit the places where they spend their leisure time, and explore!