By Dian Hasan | September 11, 2009
We’ve been blasted with the various Travel terms related to Green-, Responsible-, Eco-, Travel, Sustainable-… of late. To make sense of all the different lingo, it’s important to obtain a better understanding on what exactly it is and what it constitutes.
I choose the term “Responsible Travel” as it encompasses all the “Green Efforts” that are in line with the growing “Green Lifestyle”, essentially taking better care of the earth and all its contents (including fellow-humans. Read: Communities). I stumbled upon the Code of Conduct for Responsible Travel from UK-based Baobab Travel and I found it to fit like a glove. Baobab promotes Responsible Travel across the Middle East and Africa travel destinations, involved in everything – under the sun of “Greenness” – from Carbon-offsetting, Adventure, Extreme Sports, Trekking, Hiking, VolunTourism, and Ecotourism – among others.
Travel is a natural right of all people and is a crucial ingredient of world peace and understanding. With that right come responsibilities. Whenever you travel, on business, pleasure or a bit of both, always stop and think about:
LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS, TAKE ONLY MEMORIES
Respect the fragile earth – both land and sea. Always follow designated paths. Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitat. Leave no litter or graffiti. Keep noise to an appropriate level. Remember, we have not inherited the earth from our ancestors – we just borrow it from our children
RESPECT THE PRIVACY AND DIGNITY OF OTHERS
Respect local cultural traditions and customs by dressing and acting appropriately and take care not to offend. Always ask before photographing and/or video-recording people. Avoid taking excessive photos – if in a group consider only one person taking photos and getting copies later. Do not make promises you can’t keep. Do not trespass. You are the guest – respect your host.
LISTEN AND OBSERVE RATHER THAN JUST HEAR AND SEE
Travel in a spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to learn more about the people of your host country, their customs, history, culture, language and the natural environment. Make an effort to learn a few basics in the local language – it will be appreciated. Avoid making judgements without understanding the issues. Discover the enrichment of seeing a different way of life through other eyes.
Reduce your energy consumption e.g. always switch off electrical appliances when not in use. Make use of any recycling opportunities at your destination. Minimise usage of natural resources, especially when they are in short supply e.g. fresh water. Local rivers and streams may be people’s source of drinking water – check before swimming/washing.
SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIES
Always endeavor to reduce inequality at all opportunities. Purchase local produce in preference to imported alternatives. Be aware when it is appropriate to tip and that in some economies people rely on their tips. Do not barter too aggressively; remember that what is a small amount to you could be a lot more significant to the seller. Support local craftsmen by buying handicrafts, but be wary of things made from animal parts or endangered resources (such as shells and corals). Never buy ancient artefacts.
And finally, a crucially important statement that many travelers will be quite taken aback upon reading:
“If you are looking for an experience of ‘home away from home’ it is foolish to waste your money on travelling”. But this is the core essence of Responsible Travel, and the above is a very effective way of explaining it.
Source: Baobab Travel, UK