WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL?
Responsible travel is all about leaving a positive impact on both the environment as well as the people who live in the gorgeous places that we choose to visit. These days, the term ‘eco-toursim’ is a buzzword often thrown into any travel brochure to reel in the new generation. It often is linked to the thought that the adventures advertised are respectful towards any animals involved, less harmful for the environment, and that the company is generally more aware of their impact. Here’s how you can practice good habits on your next adventure…
Don’t be an Asshole
We’ve all seen the photos. Trendy looking girls or top-knot haired guys riding on elephants in an exotic location with a gorgeous backdrop of Southeast Asian jungle behind them. Despite the number of likes you may get, these trips and tours are to be avoided at all costs.
Responsible travel is about encountering wildlife in the most authentic way possible – in their natural environment. Do your research before to determine whether the animals are treated with care and respect! Unsure? Get in touch! We don’t ride elephants on any of our tours and we’re more than happy to recommend responsible elephant sanctuaries in Thailand where elephants are cared for.
This also goes with respecting religions, festivals, and mourning periods in certain cultures. In Southeast Asia, some temples require certain respectful attire so leave the booty shorts at home that day! For example, with the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand last month, the locals appreciated that tourists keep partying noise to minimum during the mourning period. When in doubt, just ask a local for the 411.
Just Eat It
Any Americans will know of the Freshman 15 (where the majority of 1st year college students gain some poundage from the lack of exercise and excessive liquid consumption!), but nothing compares to the French Forty. Ok it wasn’t ACTUALLY 40 pounds, but you get the picture. Even after spending a year studying there, I still don’t know how the French survive without turning into chain-smoking whales. Almost every gathering included sweets, baguettes, cheese, and of course, wine. BUT the point is that without those 3 hour lunch dates and food market excursions, I would have missed out on a crucial part of the French culture.
Not only does eating the local food in the country you travel give you an insight into that countries culture, but you’ll also be supporting local businesses and eating some of the best food you’ve ever tasted! You can’t go to Vietnam and not sit on a stool in the street eating Pho and drinking Bia Hơi (Vietnamese local beer!)
In some cultures, people don’t go out for drinks to bond, they invite each other over for family meals. So buck up, eat with your hands, and try some local food. A few local delicacies (Scorpion anyone!?) never hurt anyone…
Make the Trek
Get off the beaten track – carpool, walk, rent bicycles, anything! Be safe about hitchhiking, but take advantage of all the other ways to explore the country you’re in.
The best part about my nights are usually the walks to and from the bars, so save the cash and add to the experience! At Ultimate, we’re passionate about showing you places off the beaten track, eating where the locals recommend and showing you another side to that country.
Even with upcoming festivals such as Songkran (the Thai New Year’s festival), make the most of it and party with the locals! They’ll know the best places to party and you’ll get to be part of an authentic version of an amazing celebration!
Do your Research
I’m all about being spontaneous! I once purposely missed my flight because someone invited me a 2,000 person ‘secret’ warehouse party where the outfit of choice were one-piece pyjama sets. But for some countries it’s essential to do some background research beforehand. Some countries are more friendly towards solo women travellers, some not. Some encourage going off the beaten track, whereas some recommend staying amongst the tourists and travelling on tours. Your safety is the most important thing so do you research before. Need travel advice for Southeast Asia, Oz and NZ? Get in touch! Luckily here at Ultimate, our guides are either locals, or have lived and travelled in the country for months before leading a group so you’re always in educated hands.