How you can be a better traveller
You've no doubt witnessed the negative impact some travellers have on the places they visit. Arguing with taxi drivers, poking fun at local customs and trying to spend as little money as possible; these tourists are not respecting or contributing to the betterment of the destination.
Sustainable tourism benefits the places you visit. There is a respect for the land and the people and it offers economic benefits to the community.
Here's a list of things you can do to make your vacation a more positive experience:
- Meet the people - Be friendly and get to know the people you come in contact with. You'll learn about their culture and way of life while showing respect. After all, you are a guest in their country.
- Support the economy - Use local transportation, stay at locally owned accommodation and book day trips with local tour companies. Shop at the markets and buy directly from the people who made the goods.
- Preserve the culture - Visit cultural and historical sites and do not disturb them, sample local cuisine, learn the customs, beliefs and language.
- Appreciate the history - Knowing what a country and its people have been through is an excellent way to understand the way things are today.
- Visit community projects - Gain an understanding of the local scene by observing working projects and maybe volunteer to help out.
- Respect the environment - When hiking or camping, stick to the trails and don't go out of bounds. Leave the flora and fauna untouched and don't litter. Book with tour companies incorporating eco-friendly practices.
Doesn't this sound like a really rewarding vacation plan?
Many of these things can be studied before you leave home. Bone up on the history and language before you go and do your research before booking.
The bottom line - be prepared in order to have the best possible experience and to benefit the people and places you are visiting.
By Susan Milne
Responsible Travel Choices
Opportunities to make travel more socially and environmentally responsible are on the rise; Eco-tourism, educational/cultural travel and volunteering are examples of how travellers are respecting the places they visit. Choosing to visit countries that are protecting their own environment is another responsible choice.
Our preferred partners offer some interesting options which are easy to arrange. Take a look at these programs:
- Gap Adventures - Voluntourism and environmentally friendly tour options
A leader in sustainable tourism, Gap tours strive to minimize their impact on the environment while respecting the local people and culture. Gap is also making a difference through Planeterra, its non-profit branch. With a range of projects around the globe in health, education employment skills training, cultural heritage preservation and environmental conservation, Planeterra gives back to the communities Gap tours visit. It also gives you the opportunity to visit and volunteer on the projects as part of your vacation.
- Abercrombie & Kent - "Philanthropic Journeys"
Deliver school supplies while on safari in Kenya; maintain climate equipment on Mr. Kilimanjaro; present a research team in Antarctica with specialized scientific equipment. These are the unique experiences currently offered by Abercrombie & Kent as part of the Philanthropic Journeys collection.
- Regent Seven Seas - Ocean Futures Society
World-renowned oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau is a regular guest with Regent. The founder of the widely-respected Ocean Futures Society, which explores and protects global oceans, Cousteau gives a series of lectures with videos about his work during the voyage.
- Holland America Line - "Cruise with Purpose"
You'll have a chance to be a research biologist in the wilds of Alaska. This exclusive wildlife and research tour from Juneau is offered in conjunction with Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and the Marine Conservation Alliance. Three other unique experiences in Alaska are offered as part of the program.
- Gateways International - "Authentic Experiences rich in culture"
A leader in Europe and Latin America, Gateways offers packages and custom vacations with an emphasis on seeing the destination as the locals do.
- Adventures Abroad - "Cultural Journeys"
These soft-adventure educational trips concentrate on the culture, history and nature of the area. Led by knowledgeable destination specialists, tours are offered around the globe from Albania to Zambia.
- Voyages of Discovery - Destination focused, educational cruising
This brand new cruise line is making a name for itself as a leader in cultural cruising. A range of educational shore excursions are included in the price. Leading intellectuals host each cruise, lead excursions and lecture throughout each voyage.
These programs certainly give you the opportunity to do something different and meaningful on your next vacation.
By Susan Milne