After more than 14 months of no travel globally , Tourism saw a revival only late last year when the exodus to Maldives started around Nov ’20 by Bollywood stars. The development of vaccines and lockdown removal has lifted some spirits and made people to resume their travels . But this also means resumption on the damage on environment by us travellers, that was slightly on pause in 2020. Irresponsible travellers, the past 2 decades have in a way indirectly contributed to the rise global warming, water scarcity and a significant change in our ecosystem. Hence it makes it all the more important for us to be a responsible traveler to save our planet and start changing the way we travel.
On numerous occasions, we have behaved irresponsibly when we were on a vacation to a different city. We have been anything but a responsible traveler. We have not considered the implications of our actions on the citizens of that region and carried out many selfish acts. As tourists, Responsible Tourism is a pledge that we should take, before even booking that hotel or flight.
A collective stand on responsibility, sustainability and a care for nature , especially during travels can make a huge impact , not only on us, but the nation , the society and of course on the environment too.
How to be a Responsible Traveler
Being sustainable and responsible while travelling need not be an expensive affair or a tough process. Making small changes to our lifestyle and travel methods can bring that positive change we hope for.
So here are 10 easy ways on how you can transform yourself to a “Responsible Traveler”.
1. Avoid Littering
Though we follow this rule to the letter on a foreign land, we never think twice before throwing that empty packet cover on a side road in India. A strict discipline in this, irrespective of where we are goes a long way
2. Avoid Polluting Rivers & Lakes
The Pride of India, the Ganges river is also infamous thanks to its extreme levels of pollution. Playing a very important in the eco diversity of India, we still hope for it to restored to its original beauty. Whether you are travelling to Varanasi or Allahabad (Prayagraj) or any other city that the Ganges flows, don’t further contribute to its pollution, be it for tourism or religious purposes.
3. Avoid frequent change of Room Sheets
Most hotels have started to adopt this practice. Simply instruct the hotel to not change sheets during your entire course of stay and only the adequate amount of towels/linen in the room and nothing extra
4. Carry own Water bottle
As much as possible, avoid buying plastic water bottles. Always a good bet to carry your own bottle and refill it in restaurants , airport water coolers, hotel room etc.
5. Cycle / Walking Tours
Reduce the carbon footprint by not taking too much of taxis and rather opt for a cycle to visit nearby places. Many cities across the world including Paris, Istanbul, Zurich now have walking tours helping both the economy and at the same time, adopting a sustainable practice.
6. Avoid plastic straws
Be it a milkshake, cold coffee or a bottled juice, please avoid straws strictly and rather directly take a sip from the glass. Many studies have clearly shown the effects of non-biodegradeable plastic straws on the environment.
7. Avoid anything plastic
India has already taken a strong stand against plastic and banned the use of plastic covers. All shoppers have been encouraged to bring their own cloth bags to purchase anything. The practice of carrying cloth bags should definitely be adopted in every one of our travels, esp when there’s plenty of shopping involved.
8. Avoiding Zoos
Moving slightly away from ëco tourism, consciously try to avoid places which houses animals in caged centers , restricting its free movement. This is pure cruelty towards animals. Unless it’s a natural park, where we are the visitors and animal lives in its own home and surroundings, definitely try to avoid zoos
9. Reduce the no of Flights you take
Flights contribute to the maximum carbon footprint. Slowing down your pace of travel and using land transport can definitely help
10. Water & Electricity Usage
Many cities across the globe have severe water scarcity. The famous hill station of Shimla completely ran out of water a year back, forcing the Govt to stop tourism in that sector for a brief while . Many countries with no access to fresh water use expensive desalinated water for drinking. So just because you stay in a hotel room doesn’t mean the water tap can be left open or a leak to be ignored. Avoid bathing in bath tubs and take normal showers as an effective means to save water. Switch off lights whenever not needed as well.
A responsible traveler for self, for the nation and for the planet
Tourism primarily helps in supporting local businesses thrive. Many nations across the globe are dependent on travelers like you ,as a main source of income. So enjoy your travels, support as many local business as possible, understand their culture, but more importantly, BE Responsible!