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Useful Tips for Responsible Travel

Some useful tips when travelling overseas:

Community Based Tourism Initiatives and homestays are a great way to support the local communities you’re visiting. Research these accommodation options and immerse yourself in local culture.

Regardless of destination, think about how much waste you are producing. Many countries don’t have proper waste disposal facilities. Buy products with less packaging and try to reuse what you already have such as refillable drink bottles.

Water use is a major issue in many countries; reduce your water usage as much as possible. For example: water use of 100 guests for 55 days in a luxury hotel will support 100 families in a developing country for 3 years.

Think about where you money is going. It is important to buy products that you can see will support local communities instead of foreign investors. When bartering at a local market think about who will benefit more from that $1 – It’s probably worth a lot more to the stallholder.

Fly less and stay longer. Explore responsible travel options closer to home. Use public transport and meet the locals. Travel light. Pack only what you need. Less baggage = less for you to carry and also reduces your carbon footprint.

Eat local food and support street vendors and restaurants that source their food locally – you’ll be supporting the country’s small farmers instead of large foreign corporations.

Learn some of the local language.  You’ll be surprised how many friends you’ll make just by making the effort.

Remember that you’re in someone else’s country – respect local culture, customs and laws. What is appropriate in your culture may not be in another country.

Ask permission before taking photographs of people. Use it as an opportunity to practice the local language and get to know new people.

Experience and understand more about local culture wherever you are in the world. Meet new people and make friends along the way.

Culture & People

Tourism can either exploit local people and cultures or assist communities to preserve important traditions. The choices travellers make can affect these different outcomes.

Stuff a sarong in with your sandals. You can use it to place over any dodgy pillows, as a towel or to cover your head or legs when you enter temples. Seeing tourists wear clothes that are inappropriate to the local culture can offend local people.

Save displays of affection for private places…in some destinations kissing on the street is considered offensive.

Take a phrase book and try the local language at the market. It might break the ice and certainly will if you show some effort and make people laugh.

Avoid taking unsolicited photographs and show respect to the photogenic fisherman toiling to make a catch when you take his photo. Offer to show your subjects the image on your camera. You’ll attract a group of new friends the size of a footy team! Don’t offer to send a photo unless you really mean it. Just like at home, avoid making promises you can’t keep.

Environment

Fly less and stay longer. You’ll have more time to understand the local culture and emit less carbon – winner!

Use public transport where possible. Are you crammed on a small bus with a pig nestled under your armpits? Fantastic – you must be overseas! You’ll have a story to tell your friends.

Water is often a precious commodity.  More than two billion people in the world lack access to clean water and sanitation and 80 percent of all deaths in the developing world are water related.’ The UN claims, ‘the average tourist uses as much water in 24 hours as a third world villager could use to produce rice for 100 days.’ Avoid water guzzling golf course resorts and keep your showers short!

Talking about things normally done in private, when trekking don’t let your poops pollute. Dig a hole at least 100 metres from a water course and cover it with dirt!

Another important issue to think about when travelling is carbon off-set schemes. We know that it can get confusing when choosing a provider. – The Uniting Church is looking at developing a carbon off-set scheme that will raise appropriate funds for destination communities. Details of any progress on that front will be made available through this website.

In the interim the following  links provide helpful tips if you’re thinking about buying carbon offsets. Carbon Neutral has a carbon calculator service where you can enter your trip details and find out how much carbon you will be emitting into the atmosphere. Click here to check it out.

After you’ve calculated you carbon emissions head to CHOICE – Carbon Offsets Compared for explanations and tips about emissions and offsets.

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