This year was declared by the UNWTO the International Year of Sustainable Tourism
to raise awareness on the economic growth, social inclusiveness and the protection of cultural and natural assets that tourism can achieve.
The team at Wander strongly believes in our power as travelers to change the world, to make a positive impact and travel beyond our destinations.
Responsible tourism is a way of traveling, there are many choices during a trip to make it more conscious and positively impact our destination and the world. From the very beginning you can book an eco-friendly hotel at Wander, you can reuse your towels and bed linens, you can choose public transport, use a bicycle... But there is more to do in order to be a responsible traveler than taking care of Our Planet, we should be ethical too. How? Here you can find the basics!
1. Respect local customs.
As an ethical and responsible traveler you need to soak into the culture of the place you’re going to visit so you can fully enjoy it, feel better, understand the customs and lifestyle, respect and empathize with what you see and experience in your destination.
When you know the local customs you can respect and honor them, you can play by the rules and fully enjoy the experience of learning from another culture. Wherever you are traveling you have tons of information now at your fingertips, use it! When you are planning your trip you are already traveling, it’s a charming part of the process, use it to learn about the country's traditional dress, traditional food, religion...
One thing we like to do before a trip is to learn some basic words to communicate with the locals, "Thank you & Hello" open lots of doors! Don’t you think?
2. Respect the natural environment.
Respecting the wildlife and the local ecosystems might seem like an obvious advice, but sometimes we feel too comfortable as tourists and we want to explore a little bit further, to discover the unknown and we forget to pay attention to the signs. We forget to respect the restricted areas, and we don’t have to!
Also remember not to buy souvenirs that take advantage of the protected wildlife. Always avoid buying or taking with you local wildlife, endangered animals or any souvenir related to them.
“Take only memories, leave only footprints”
3. Respect the locals
There is always curiosity about how other people live, especially in places that we don’t know much about, far away civilizations that capture our attention and curiosity. To visit a small ethnic group of people, a village where special community lives with ancient customs or a tribe can be interesting and appealing. However, we must do so as an informed travelers and in the most respectful and kind manner.
Learn about the local people and how they live, don't use them only as tourist attractions, choose carefully your tour operator, one that informs you on how they live, their customs, that respect them and contribute to their preservation. It’s important to respect people's space and lifestyle.
Remember, meeting other cultures should be about emphasizing and learning about other ways of living and not just about taking that Instagram picture that will get the likes.
4. Support the local economy.
Tourism is an important source of income for countries and their people. Many families depend on tourists for their living and the best way of helping that country you are visiting is traveling local. Moreover, your traveling experience will be much better, you’ll bond with the place, you’ll live deeper and your mark on that place will last longer. When eating always eat in local restaurants, hire local tour guides and buy local products.
Buy handmade souvenirs, things that are made by local people with local inputs. This way when you are back home enjoying your treasure you’ll smile not only about the trip memories it brings to you, but for the people you could help by buying that specific piece because you didn’t only support the seller, but a whole chain of local people that participated in its production, isn’t that an amazing feeling?
5. Respect buildings and sacred places.
Many of the places we discover as travelers during our journeys are sacred places or important buildings. Temples in Kyoto, churches in Rome, mosques in Morocco, cathedrals in Latin America. To see all these important places and enjoy them in the best way, it is key to know when to visit them, what to wear and how to behave.
For example mosques, most of them won’t require visiting women to cover their hair, although the gesture is welcome, but some will ask you to do so. Be informed so you are as respectful as you can be. Many years ago it was required to visit San Marcos Cathedral in Venice with your shoulders covered, nowadays many things have changed, but knowing before visiting will avoid you being surprised and will enhance your experience.
6. Uploading your feed
Taking pictures is one of the most important parts of your trip, it was important even before social media! It is special because you create lasting memories that you can see over and over long after the trip is over and you get to share that with your loved ones or your followers.
Portraits and pictures of people are special and beautiful to tell stories, but you have to be careful and know when it’s OK to do so.
Always ask if people are comfortable to get a picture taken, it's always better to ask for permission than to say you are sorry. Most people will allow you to do so and you’ll have the peace of mind that you do it the right way.
7. Be open minded about a different culture and ways of living.
Last but not least, be open minded. If you are a real traveler you already know this, but here is a friendly reminder. For you eating grasshoppers or snails can be a disgusting thing and lobster a feast, depending on your background and what you have lived and how you have been educated you see things differently. And that is the main reason why you always have to be open minded, regarding the food, may be you won’t want to try it, but why not take the chance? you might discover your next favorite dish!
It happens the same with other local customs or ways of living, there are cultures where spitting or a burp is normal, some give two kisses when you meet someone, others three, others none. Again to be informed and respectful of others are the two main rules we recommend you to follow in order to have the best traveling experience.
“Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.”