How to become a responsible tourist

Being culturally and socially aware is the start of being a responsible traveller

Tune out to tune in: just stop for a minute – notice the sights, the scents, the local people<NO1> we can do is stop and enjoy the views<NO> going about their business. Photograph: Danita Delimont/Getty Images

Tune out to tune in: just stop for a minute – notice the sights, the scents, the local people we can do is stop and enjoy the views going about their business. Photograph: Danita Delimont/Getty Images

 

How we perceive the world is changing and many people would like to feel that they can be a responsible traveller and tourist – but do not know how. One of the first things you can do is just stop for a minute – notice the sights, the scents, the local people going about their business.

Too many people more often than not manage to miss – or worse still – ignore the atmosphere and the very things that make places special.

Being culturally and socially aware is the start of being a responsible traveller. Learning about the customs and culture of the country you are visiting will help you avoid offending local people. Slowing down is another way, such as taking a walking or cycling holiday. Seek out locally run tours and trips where the spending will go back into the community.

Immersion holiday

If you would like to travel more responsibly there are a number of companies that can help. One of the better known is responsibletravel.com, which is UK-based but offers holidays all over the world. The range of options is extensive: from staying in Cuba with families, to exploring rural Romania, or a Japanese immersion holiday.

Other companies that can offer responsible insights into cultures include Explore, which recently restarted operating in Ireland. Explore is about adventure travel with an ethical focus.

Intrepid Travel specialises in small groups and provides travellers with rich experiences. Where possible, they employ local guides, stay in smaller-scale, locally owned accommodation, eat in local restaurants and purchase souvenirs from local artisans. It offers a great range of family holidays too.

Exodus, the adventure travel company, is friendly to solo travellers and more than half of its groups comprise of lone tourists. There is no single supplement and some of the more popular tours are solo only.

jscales@irishtimes.com

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