It is a fact that we all want to have the perfect trip, one where we live unique experiences, relax and get in touch with nature. But, have you ever thought about the impact your trips generate? What price does the environment pay when you relax in that crystalline pool by the sea? How much does electricity the air conditioning of the 825 rooms of that resort that offers contact with nature require? Or, where does all the waste from the buffet just served to you and 1,500 other people go?
As the years pass by, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the need to change our consumption habits to reduce the impact on our planet. In tourism, new forms of travel have emerged and they’ve attracted the attention of those who prefer to reinvent themselves and practice non-conventional activities, seeking greater benefit for the places they visit and reducing their impact on the environment.
Here are some good practices you can do to travel responsibly in the places you visit.
- Take care of the resources the place has
Whether you’re visiting a big city or a small community, it’s always important to take care of all resources as if you were at home – no leaving the air conditioning on while you’re away so that when you arrive the room is fresh!
Most of the cooperatives or host communities don’t have a large amount of resources or amenities to which we are accustomed in the city, so it is essential to be aware and take care of water, electricity or any other resource that’s important in the area. You also have to be respectful and patient with the conditions of the place and appreciate the positive side such as living in a space free of urbanization (we travel to do different things, don’t we?).
- Be respectful and tolerant of the customs of the local population
The further you travel from the place you live, the more likely it is that the culture you encounter will be different from your own. Even if at first you don’t find some traditions or customs of the places you visit logical, try to think about why they are there, be empathetic and tolerant, because, even if you don’t understand them at first, every culture is a way of seeing the world and can be explained with the different elements around it (nature, climate, history, etc.).
When visiting a community far from the urbanization you may find yourself in situations that involve fitting in with local customs, so don’t be afraid and dare to get to know the local life, always with respect. It’s a new way to expand your cultural horizons (that’s why we travel, right?).
- Avoid generating waste and keep the sites clean
There are many ways to avoid generating waste when traveling. For example, you can bring your own water bottle or coffee thermos and personal hygiene items. If you go on a camping trip you can still take your own cutlery and plates. The planet will thank you!
It is imperative for responsible travelers to leave the place as we found it, and even leave it cleaner than it was. Keep in mind that many of the communities don’t have a waste management system, so pick up your trash and clean up your space before you finish your visit. If possible, take your trash with you and deposit it at home or in a place where it can be disposed of better.
- Consume local products and services
Does it need to be said? When we travel, it’s very important that we consume, to the greatest extent possible, the products and services that come from local producers, small businesses and family enterprises. As tempting as it may sound to drink a coffee from that place that’s on every corner, or to play it safe and eat at the same food chain as in your city, there are many options in the place you’re visiting to try the local cuisine, shop at little corner stores or shop in colorful markets.
Many communities make a living from the handicrafts they make, so by taking a few souvenirs from these places to your loved ones you’ll be supporting the local economy. Finally, when it comes to buying, don’t haggle, because all crafts need a lot of effort and dedication to be produced.
Written by: Jan Martín Müller & Karime Reyes Chin.