How to Be A Responsible Traveler: A 7-Step Guide

See the world, and leave every place better.

We’re traveling more than ever and with many of the world’s destinations at our mercy, it seems no place is out of our reach. Travel brings freedom and a sense of invincibility, and it’s no secret that we love to indulge when we’re on the road. However, the world is a fragile yet beautiful place, and with more people traveling, the more people indulging means the more strain the world suffers.

However, one thing we need to do on the road is to travel responsibly.

1. Avoid attractions that evoke animal cruelty.

You might have seen in recent years that there has been some light shed on animal cruelty, especially with tourist attractions. People are learning more and more about the abuse, and so they are inevitably starting to stay away from animal novelty attractions. So, if you see drugged tigers, abused elephants (or elephant riding) or crocodiles being played with, remember that it’s not okay. Be a responsible traveler and avoid these attractions! You’ll get plenty of angry and sad emoticons via social media if you do!

2. Respect the cultural values.

In some countries it’s rude to do the things that might be okay back home, so look into where your going and learn about the cultural no-no’s. For example tapping someone above their shoulders in Cambodia is seen as disrespectful. It’s important to do your research, and remember that we’re receiving great privilege being allowed in as visitors to other countries.

3. Dress appropriately.

If it gets hot, then that’s part of your travel experience, it isn’t an excuse to get scantily clad and drop your clothes. It’s a well-known annoyance that some tourists go topless in the city — just because they can’t hack the weather! Don’t be the naive tourist and keep your clothes on. Also, when visiting temples and cultural sites, there may be appropriate attire rules, too. Covering knees and shoulders are quite strict rules, especially for women.

4. Don’t shun a genuine invite.

If you travel to the South Pacific, for example, some of the Maori and Polynesian cultures may well ask you to eat with them. If you don’t, it can be seen as offensive. Travel is about new immersive experience and one of the best ways to see that first hand is to mix with the locals. So, in moderation and with common sense, experience what it’s like to actually be from that country, rather than just be someone glossing over it.

5. Go local.

More and more, we’re seeing the big international brands planted across the world. All the fast food joints and coffee chains aren’t good for the local stalls and businesses, so do your bit and put money into the country. And what better way to do that than by eating street food! It’s the little man we should be supporting, that’s where you get the most authentic and local experiences. Craving the typical Burger King or Starbucks won’t help anybody, and it takes business away from the people of the country.

6. Don’t drink too much.

Being drunk abroad might happen, but going over the top can cause problems. Some countries will take stricter precautions with intoxicated travelers and are too merry so make sure you keep it at an easy level! It’s well known that some young travelers get drunk every night and call it “traveling,” but that isn’t exactly what seeing the world is supposed to be about.

7. Tidying up after yourself.

This goes without saying wherever you are and there’s no exception when you’re traveling. Just remember to keep trash in trash — you don’t want a reputation of being a bad traveler! If you can, don’t use plastic, especially in countries where recycling options are limited, leading to more waste and sewage problems. Keep man made resources to a limit, and try to do your bit for the world.

Got anything to add? Post your thoughts in the comments and share this list with your travel buddies!

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About the Author

Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker originates from Northeast England. He began his journey on the road back in 2012 throughout Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Now, over 4 years in, he is a freelance travel writer and content marketing specialist. Tommy has visited the Philippines twice and especially raves about Banaue. He has attended Sinulog festival, swum with Whalesharks and even DJ’d in Boracay!He was featured in the Business Insider, BBC and Choose Philippines. Tommy goes by his own motto “every new place is a good place.”If you don’t see Tommy focused doing Hot Yoga, trailing through rainforests, ducking into the ocean or eating local street food, you’ll see him at a small bar drinking what the locals drink!