For me traveling is a way of discovering one’s true self, with every new adventure I embark on, or every new place I discover or soul I come to meet, a little of my own soul is tweaked ever so slightly sculpting the person I dream of becoming one day. I mean, I have a bucket list longer than the Trans-Siberian railway line, but as tourists, I don’t think we always realise the impact we have on the communities we visit, and it’s not necessarily a positive one. There is such a thing as being a responsible tourist:
Use public transport when possible
With a little research on the best/safest/cheapest mode of transport and the best routes to take most of the touristy towns can be discovered by public transport. This isn’t just applicable to the bigger cities in first world countries. Plus, it’s one of those win-win situations, you’ll be saving a lot of money, AND it’s much better for the environment.
Stay away from the roads less travelled
In many places the natural habitat can be very stressed and on an extremely delicate equilibrium, especially in water scarce areas. Wandering off the designated pathways and roads set out might seem innocent enough but in some of these areas nature is not able to recover as quickly. In semi-dessert areas, for instance, if you damage the ground covering vegetation it can quickly lead to more serious issues such as erosion.
Do not litter
This might seem like an obvious one, but surprisingly enough, this is not a concept instilled in everyone. Throwing your trash in a designated bin makes a bigger impact than you might think. We’re all very quick to comment on the cleanliness of a place so let’s all make the vow to leave a place the way we want to find it. Leaving your trash everywhere goes much further than just being uneasy on the eye. It spreads and soils areas all around and can eventually have serious health risks to both people and wildlife in the area. I’ve heard many horror stories of animals dying a long and slow death indirectly or directly as a result of trash lying around.
Do your homework
It’s very easy to be fooled when you’re in a foreign country, where you’re most probably not fluent in the native language or don’t know the area too well. Often, we might visit a popular tourist attractions that is actually doing more harm than good. So-called animal shelters are some of the more common smoke screens. Before you visit an attraction do the homework and make sure what they’re doing is legal, ethical, and most importantly not exploiting anyone or anything.
Respect their rules, religion and culture
Before you visit the area make sure you are familiar with their customs and cultures. It’s true what they say, knowledge is power, by being prepared you will be less likely to offend someone. For me, respect for other cultures and religions is of the utmost importance.