We all claim to be passionate travelers where travelling is THE most obvious of our interests and we are all so keen about going to new places, places that may or may not, culturally or ethically be same as to where we come from. But one thing that a traveler MUST keep in mind is that no matter what place you’re going to, you’re a representative of your homeland and it’s your responsibility to paint a positive, memorable and quality picture of the place you come from. As a traveler, you become an AMBASSADOR of your home country and its values and have a duty to create a constructive impact around you.
You may also call it ETHICAL TRAVELLING
So here’s how I interpret travelling ethically into a list of do’s and don’ts , based on my personal experience and knowledge gathered from all my travels in and out of the country
Respect the queues
Whether at the airport or in a shop or at the bus station, please don’t skip your turn to rush ahead. Everybody is equally in a hurry to be where they have to be. So let’s not forget social etiquette over lack of time. Also, STOP nudging or pretending to accidentally bump from behind suggesting to move faster
Smile often. Say a lot of Thank You, Please & Sorry (Preferrably in Their Language)
Not just while travelling, these words should anyway be incorporated in our daily life and when said with a smile, it breaks all language barriers and becomes a powerful tool of communication with anyone from any part of the world. If you could also learn these basic words in their local language, then nothing like it. It not only makes them happy but they feel like you’re making an effort to connect with them, mingle with them and return the love with more intensity.
Don’t stomp on biological life
Use sidewalks or trails during walks and treks instead of tramping on the grass or tiny flowers growing on it. It’s a different story if it’s a jungle and there is no pathway at all, but try your best to not walk over botanical life or even insects for that matter and use ready made walkways to avoid crushing flowers. Watch where you step!
Don’t Litter obviously. Rather, Clean it if you see it
We all love to apply (and sometimes pay) for those organized voluntary retreats with an environmental purpose and go to beautiful locations for cleaning activities. How about do that anyway every time you take a trip? So whether it’s a city, grassland or the beach, if you see some loose trash flowing here and there, grab it and put it in a nearby bin. Obviously not expecting you to clear heaps but HEY if you could talk to the locals and actually make a whole cleaning drive out of it then WHY NOT!
Assist others on public transport
See an oldy fidgeting with the door handle to get onto the bus? Quit sitting there with a poker face in a corner and get up to help. It’s not just about being polite but someday you might be in a similar position wanting help (Karma Hits!) Follow the signs inscribed on every public transport and offer your seats to old aged persons, pregnant women, people with special needs, even someone who looks like has gone through a bad day or just offer anyway, it’s thrilling to hang by the door while the bus speeds off! 😀
Don’t leave your hotel rooms messy
One of the factors that irks me a lot. Your mannerisms begin from your bed/bathroom. Yes you’ve paid the hotel for the cleaning services but please don’t make the job miserable and puke-inducing for them. The hotel isn’t your property but it sure is someone else’s and its dear to them. At least be careful to not mess up the washrooms by doing exactly the opposite of the plea signs. Also, it’s always nice to make your bed in the morning and leave it in a civil state, with the floors dry and not full of water, because you decided to jump out of the shower without drying, washrooms in a condition that someone else can walk into without a grimace. Let’s own the places we live in, no matter how temporarily
Control Thy Volumes
As regular travelers, accommodating in a hotel every time can be expensive, hence the option of guest house/room, couch surfing or pensions come in handy but with it comes the responsibility of carefully securing the locks after you come in, not wasting the utilities and not bothering the house owners by making overly loud noise. Lets keep those volumes in check!
One of my favourite points. I firmly believe this is very important as a traveler to support the local community of a place you visit. It not only helps them financially but it eventually helps the whole community to grow in a socio-economic way. Think of the bigger picture and instead of putting your money in already-rich accounts of big brand owners, support these income classes who are reliant on everyday sales to feed their families. Plus the local stuff has so much variety and is usually half the price, so you can buy more for your friends and family back home! Its a win-win 🙂
Since we have agreed to shop locally and give the benefit of economy to the local sellers, let’s not forget to be reasonable while we bargain for the prices to be lowered. While shopping from a local bazaar or a flea market gives you the opportunity to save some bucks, do it reasonably and nicely. Think of the average profit your seller would be making on the product and if the price is worth the quality and usage, don’t pressure to further reduce. Besides, you’d have happily paid a higher price for the same thing at a big store and never even thought of bargaining in the first place.
Be Sensitive towards Wildlife and Related Activities
However fun and exciting it may look, but let’s try not to further abuse animals for the sake of our fun by opting for “A Dolphin Swim” or “Elephant Safari” or any other entertainment that makes use of Animals, because we all know what goes in the background right? Separation of the young ones from their mothers and harsh mentoring, it’s all just unacceptable.
Similarly, entering into the territory of wildlife during treks and causing them harm or irritation is also not a good idea at all, because you’d really not appreciate them returnin
Respect the Local Culture
The world is full of diversity and we must respect that regardless of how common or uncommon our beliefs or practices turn out from theirs, we must respect if not adhere to those. Where some cultures are rigid in terms of dress sense and gestures, others may be fairly flexible. It’s key to make some research about the traditions and local norms before visiting a place and there’s no harm in learning a thing or two about the popular practices of the people there and mingling with them. Its fun 😀
OWN Your Travels – The people, places, cultures, everything – Become A Part of It
See where you Pee
Don’t just answer the call anywhere! This is specific to long road trips and trekking situations where there’s no chance of finding a decent loo for urgent needs. Sure you can use the vast fields nature has provided you with, but please make sure the spot you’ve chosen isn’t someones property or a sacred place for that matter (That could go wrong in so many ways!)
The locals often complain of travelers using their outdoor sitting places or Baithaks, which are stone built and un-roofed and look abandoned, as relieving spots and that is obviously not a pleasant sight.
Minimize your waste
The whole world is struggling with waste minimization, let’s not further add to their problems shall we? You bought one bottle of water in the morning, don’t throw it away once finished, maybe refill it from a drinking water facility and not pile up trash in the bins. It’s also easy on the travelers pocket.
Similarly, choose a dine-in over a take away, so that less garbage is thrown unless you’re visiting countries following the Waste-To-Energy phenomenon who actually import waste from other countries to convert it to electricity. If not, follow the Re-Use formula.
If the place you’re travelling to has decent traffic rules and the norms allow, go for renting a bicycle and explore in a non-polluting way. Again it’s a win-win as you get to stay fit and explore the untouched parts of a city that you would have otherwise missed in a car as well contribute to a greener environment.
Think Before You Click
Photography is essential while travelling and with cameras built in on all possible devices, it’s difficult to avoid the urge to click when you see the moment. But thinking to take permission would be good if your frame includes a person or someone’s personal property.
These were most of the points that I could think of, hope you enjoyed reading them.
What other Ethical Travel Traits would you add to the list? Please share your responses in the comment section below 🙂