Traveling is opening the door to discover not only incredible places, but also other cultures opening your mind to thousands of new ways of seeing the world.
Each trip can become a unique adventure for you, but what about the planet? And for the local population? And for wildlife? In recent years, we have heard the words sustainable tourism more and more, but do we really know what responsible travel is? Or what is more important how can I be a responsible tourist?
In Espiritu Travel we want ensure that not only each of their customized trips provides a truly enriching experience for travelers but that every trip contributes to local economy and reduces the negative environmental impacts. To become a more sustainability company we have partner with CCC’s Carbon Neutral Checkout, a program that measures the greenhouse gas emissions associated with every trip with Espíritu Travel. CCC’s Carbon Neutral build the costs to nullify those emissions with verified and validated carbon credits. Now, each trip to Cuba, Spain or Portugal with Espiritu Travel will be a carbon neutral adventure.
If you wonder what you can do as a traveler to be a more responsible tourist, keep reading.
All forms of tourism, like all actions, have impacts. The difference is that the main objective of making a responsible trip is to maximize the benefits associated with tourist activities, while minimizing the damage. For this, we must all contribute, from local and international entities, to tourists and agents that act in the Tourism Sector.
Why do we want to be responsible travelers? Why do we have to be sustainable tourists? These are questions we ask ourselves every day when planning a weekend getaway, a trip to another country or a short Sunday excursion. Surely you have done them too, and if you haven’t: it’s time you started asking!
Sustainable Tourism has to do with making the most of the natural, economic, social and cultural resources of a destination, without generating negative impacts on the society or on its environment. At the same time, this type of tourism is an engine of economic and social development, so when choosing a flight, for example, find out about the carbon footprints it generates. This is already a step!
What can we do to be responsible traveler?
1. Before traveling, find out about the destination you are going to visit
Before setting off, find out about the characteristics of your destination and prepare the necessary documentation, medical checks and travel insurance. Heed the recommendations of local authorities, especially in an emergency. Check the origin of the products you consume to avoid any risk, especially infectious or derived from allergic reactions or intolerances.
2. Consume local products and services
By consuming products or services locally made, you will help strengthen local entrepreneurs and the profits will be reinvested on the local population. Likewise, when you buy any good or service, buy only what you really need and do it at a fair price so as not to destabilize the local economy or the living conditions of the owners or employees of local businesses.
Consume responsibly! Not because you are far from home you should waste, the use of energy and the expense of water has an impact on your destination, just as it does at your home.
Small gestures to consume responsibly: buy your souvenir at the local store, your gift will be more authentic and if it is handmade it will be unique. At the hotel, try to avoid changing towels every day.
3. Learn and share about the community you visit
Learn, whenever possible, about the cultural aspects of the destination you visit (customs, gastronomy, languages …). Also, make sure you know their social norms to avoid behaviors that may be offensive or humiliating to your host community.
What better way than to know the destination than through the gastronomy? Avoid eating in the large chain restaurants that you find on the corner of your hometown, try local products that are produced in the destination and consume in the local restaurant. I assure you that your gastronomic experience will be more authentic!
4. Contributes to the conservation, protection and regeneration of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the destination
We all love visiting natural landscapes and living with animals, but as Responsible Travelers we must make sure that the ecosystem is not damaged. On the contrary, tourism should serve to protect it, regenerate it and help it grow.
Ecosystems are increasingly deteriorated and polluted, largely due to human action. In order not to contribute to this destruction of our flora and fauna, look only for products, experiences and services that guarantee the sustainable exploitation of natural resources and that avoid animal abuse. Avoid generating waste, try to recycle, otherwise that dream destination of your vacation will end up being ruined.
What can I do? Do not participate in activities where animals are removed from their habitat. Do not swim with the dolphins or pick flowers or plants from the parks you visit. If you can, always carry a cloth bag with you in your backpack to collect the garbage that you can generate and recycle it later.
Petting a wild animal is not “normal” and if you are so lucky that it is always within the animal’s natural habitat and without disturbing its tranquility. If you want to dive with sharks, do it with a diving school that doesn’t feed them. No one guarantees that you will see them, but if you do, the observation will be in a more natural way. You can check FAADA, a reference in responsible tourism with animals.
5. Respect diversity and do not encourage discriminatory activities
In many places, the integration into society of people who are discriminated because of gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, economic situation or disability is very difficult. It is our duty to help remove these barriers by avoiding sexist or offensive language and comments, or stereotypes. Rather, it advocates that those groups that tend to be more marginalized have equal opportunities.
If our impact on nature can be dangerous, the impact on other people is even more so. Especially with the most disadvantaged groups. If a child asks you for money, do not give it to him/her since it will cause that child to ask for money again instead of going to school. Find out about the organizations that exist in the destination and participate in one of the many charitable actions of the destination.
6. Respect the heritage and infrastructure of the destination
Observe how the destination infrastructures (buildings, transport, homes, public spaces …) are managed so that your visit does not imply an alteration in local life.
What can I do? If it says don’t use flash, don’t use it, if it says don’t pass, don’t pass. They are not recommendations and it is not worth believing yourself special and breaking the rules to have a unique selfie.
7. Promotes fair and dignified working conditions
Check that everything you consume or buy has been produced by people with fair working conditions, who are not minors, who avoid sexual or child exploitation, unhealthiness or animal abuse.
8. Walk or use public transportation
The use of transport are one of the main sources of fossil fuel emissions, and therefore one of the evils of the planet. So choosing how to move has a very important impact. Instead of making a long journey by private transfer, find out if there is the option of taking a fast train, you will be surprised to know that the travel time by train are shorter than by car.
Have I convinced you? It’s not that difficult right. We can all reduce our footprint when we travel by performing actions as simple as not feeding the animals or taking a reusable bottle on our trip so we do not have to buy a plastic one. In summary, you enrich the world, while you enrich yourself by traveling.
From Espíritu Travel we wanted to contribute to Sustainability by providing carbon neutral trips and experiences to Spain, Portugal and Cuba. Our mission is to design custom-made travel itineraries that highlight cultural and natural heritage of a country, as well as connecting travelers with local experiences as new member of CCC’s Carbon Neutral Checkout program.
You can read more about our role in Responsible Tourism to Cuba here.