Something I believe in…
What is Responsible Tourism?
People are always asking me “But Kara, I don’t even know what responsible tourism means, you’re speaking a different language.” I always give the same response.. It’s about being mindful of the impact you leave when traveling. Short and simple, right?
But I’m going to dig deeper in this so you get the full run down. It’s my only hope for you to be conscious about the decisions you make before, during, and after you travel in order to positively contribute to the world around us!
So let me break this down for ya. Whether you like it or not we leave behind more than just footprints.. in our hotel rooms were taking showers, using sheets, throwing away trash, and using up energy with our mini fridge. Out on the town we are renting cars, throwing away more trash and using the public bathrooms. And all these are necessary to live/ vacation. You see our presence as travelers has a pos and neg impact on the people, culture, and environment.
What’s in it for me?
Well for me the only incentive I need is.. Do good, feel good. But the reward can come in many forms.. you can buy a hand woven table runner from a local artisan, you can stay with a local family during a home stay, seek out less ordinary tours that will benefit the community or give back by volunteering on your vacation. It may take more time to book and research but believe me the feelings you get after your trip can be so rewarding.
Here’s some ideas I thought of for your next travel journey.
Do your research. Be knowledgeable of the destination (aka read more of my blog and spend some time reading a guidebook or two before take off).
Plan out your transportation, and whenever possible RIDE a bike, or the public bus (build local economies).
Understand the city or region, what is the government struggling with (can you help during your time there), and what are some of the current community based initiatives.
I was just reading an article the other day that stated something along the lines of this.. millennials want to see they are making a difference while on holiday. Well if you really want to, then you gotta DO THE RESEARCH and act on it. Take a day off from snapping photos of yourself and volunteer for a local conservation project or help locals. There are so many NGO’s and opportunities out there for you to shine.
So the idea here is keep the money you’re spending back into the hands of the local community.
The very first thing I do when I go to a new city is rent a bike and explore. One: You can cover more ground quicker. Two: Get lost (really), every time I go to a new place I don’t even look at a map, first I deliberately make myself get lost; this way is the ABSOLUTE best because you can ask the locals where to go next, where to eat, where to shop, and believe me they will love ya (reason 2 1/2 … it’s hilarious). Three: Go to a local tour operator (book tours for the trip), grab and map and suddenly (if your like me) you realize you’ve memorized the city (side note: some people call me Sacagawea). Four: Then I memorize where my favorite districts from my bike ride earlier and explore by foot more in depth.
Challenge yourself to not just make friends with your hostal buds, but to go out and meet local people too (it’s moments like these I live for, meeting locals, immersing myself in culture and cuisine, and being fully aware of the unique spots that particular city holds).
Common sense, don’t litter, do not snap photos where it says “Don’t snap photos,” don’t buy drugs, and don’t eat at a Hard Rock Cafe… please.
Seek out alternative ways to get around (ex: ferries, biking walking, mo-peds…. razor scooters, Heelys).
Perhaps if you really wanted to give – give in kind or make a donation to a local charity.
After your Holiday
Talk about it. Write about it. Rate it. Share your experiences and favs with your friends because the best recommendations come from word of mouth. Your attitude as a responsible traveler can help make a difference.