In the article «How to be a sustainable tourist? 10 green tips to help you», you may have discovered some concrete actions to reduce your impact on the environment. Today, let’s have a closer view to the two other pillars of sustainable development: the social and economical aspect. In addition to a lower carbon footprint, ethics and fairness are really important to make an authentic travel full of life lessons.
How can we achieve that? There are some tips I got from Lucas, one of my dearest traveler friend. He is really into sustainable travel and I believe his advices are worth spreading. So I re-organized the discussion to make you have a better glance.
1- Choose the destination and make some research
Summer holiday just ended and we are planning to meet up to chat about our summer trips. But the discussion quickly got changed as we started to dream about the next trip…
- Why traveling? We were asking ourselves: Why do we travel? What will be the purpose of this upcoming trip? We end up speaking about the different objectives of a sustainable travel: discover new local traditions, support an NGO, contribute to the development of local economy or the empowerment of minorities…
- Where to? The grass is always greener on the other side of the road. But what if our neighbors were actually in the next city/country? We talked a little bit about slow traveling but then we both knew that we wanted to travel a little further away. Lucas mentioned Green destination which was establishing the list of 100 greenest destinations and I found the website quite interesting.
- When? Traveling during the off season or at the end of the high seasons allows locals to spread out their revenue on a yearly basis. From our perspective, it’s also good to discover a country without a crowd around us.
Without knowing these, we just reached the first step of sustainable traveling. There is no bad tourist, only mis-informed travellers. By choosing a sustainable goal, making some research on the place to go and the time to go, we were becoming actors of our journey. By researching before reaching the destination, we are already to travel. When we get there, we will know how to adapt to local life.
Are you ready to leave?
2- Participate in the development of local economy
According to the Worldwide Council of Tourism, in terms of business volume, tourism is the first worldwide industry, in front of the gas and the food industries. What a potential to develop local economy in the place you are visiting!
We started to imagine how we should behave and what we should do when we arrive in the country, directly propelled at the heart of local economy.
- Small is beautiful. Rather than giving fish to someone, it’s best to teach him how to fish. We truly believe in this philosophy. So here is a couple of ideas we have to do it: find a place to stay in a family-run hostel or an ecolodge, eat in the restaurants where the locals go, ask for a local guide to discover the place, buy souvenirs to a local aircraftman. Let’s break out of our comfort zone and support small businesses rather than big chains.
- Local currency. We really wish to visit a place where we can find local currency. This is the MUST to support local economy and invest in the community. The money we spent will runs from a local shop to another in the specific district and it will continue to do so even after we leave. If possible, we believe that going to currency exchange shops instead of going banks would be better to support family runned businesses. Lucas told me about Cochange, it is an app which allowed him to find the nearest exchange shops in his previous trip.
- Fair price. When traveling, most of the time, you have to negotiate the prices. It prevents the locals from being spoiled but we should do it fairly and only when we are interested by a product.
3- Respect and contemplate spirit
To get off the beaten path, Lucas and I agree that one needs to know how to be discrete and to blend in (with locals not tourists!). We are clients here but not kings here. We are privileged to travel and experience living as a local. We just need to open our eyes.
- Do as locals do. To enjoy an authentic yet exclusive experience, Lucas and I love to blend in with locals. For my part, the first thing I put in my backpack is comfortable and discrete clothes. I love observing what autochtone are behaving: how should man and woman interact with each other, what is the distance, what is polite or impolite… Lucas told me how a couple of words helped him to get along with locals and discover tourist-free places in the city with residents.
- Curious but not intrusive. Lucas is a very curious person and he loves taking pictures. He said that nonetheless he asked for permission. He also hides his wealth to avoid problems.
I hope those little tips will help you for your next socially responsible travel! Just to finish the article, here is a little conclusion by G. Casanova: “The man who seeks to educate himself must first read and then travel in order to correct what he has learned.”.
There are more ways of being a sustainable traveler, you can find out more with Mandie Jayne and make your next trip more sustainable!