Responsible Travel and Tourism

Responsible Travel

What is responsible travel? How can you travel more responsibly and what is greenwashing? Read on to find out.

What Is Responsible Travel?

Responsible Travel is a form of conscious tourism that takes the focus away from profit and consumer culture and moves instead towards treating the people we interact with and the places we explore with respect. 

It also means calling into question ‘the way things have always been’ and choosing a more mindful alternative instead. This could be asking the question about whether all-inclusive resorts are sustainable, whether going on a cruise is really the best way to see the world, or whether you should stay in a chain hotel as opposed to a locally-run guest house. 

Of course, the decisions we make are dependent on our own personal circumstances, but responsible travel is all about making the best choices possible for yourself, for other people and for the planet.

In other words, we could define responsible travel as the approach and choices you make when you travel to respect and support local communities, their cultures, habits, economies, and the environment.

How Can I Travel More Responsibly?

According to Dubois and Ceron, 2006 and Gössling and Peeters, 2007 “tourism could find itself generating up to 40 percent of global carbon emissions by 2050” and as such, it is vital that we focus on making travel much more responsible and sustainable if we plan on reaching the ‘Net-zero by 2050’ aim.

There are therefore a number of different things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to travel more responsibly.

Transport Choices

responsible travel by right travel transport choices (train)

Your transport choices are likely to make up the largest percentage of carbon emissions during your travels so it’s important to think carefully about how you want to get from A to B. Could you travel by train or ferry as opposed to travelling by plane? Or could you pay that little bit extra to book a direct flight rather than having a stopover? These might be small changes that could have a big impact on the planet. Did you know, for example, that take-off and landing are believed to produce as much as 25% of the total carbon emissions for each flight, so reducing the number of stopovers you have could dramatically decrease your carbon footprint. 

Similarly, when you arrive at your destination, could you take a joint hotel transfer with other guests from the airport rather than hopping in a private taxi? Or walk or cycle short journeys rather than relying on the convenience of a cab?

Choose Local

Responsible travel by choosing local

Choosing local when you travel is one of the best ways in which you can have a positive impact as not only are you opting for food, goods, and services that have lower carbon emissions but you’re also supporting the local economy. This responsible travel mindset allows you to support the three Verticals Of Sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) and also gives you a much more authentic travel experience.

Be Mindful

responsible tourism by mindful travel

Being mindful of responsible travel is important before, during and after your trip. This ensures that you make the most appropriate decisions at every step. Responsible travel starts by taking the time to thoroughly research the companies you plan on travelling with, to check out their environmental policies and ethos. This may include things like using seasonal produce in their restaurants, offering chemical and/or plastic-free toiletries or only employing people from the local area. 

You can also be mindful of how much you pack when you travel, how much water you use when in the shower, whether you opt for responsible wildlife tourism operators and reusables you can take to avoid single-use plastics on your journey. 

Travel Slowly

responsible tourism by travel slowly

Last but not least, you can choose to travel slowly. Retreats that allow guests to experience a range of activities in one destination are great for the environment as travellers can use just one or two forms of transport to arrive at the retreat and then spend the rest of the time in one place. Not only does this lessen your impact on the environment, but it also allows you to slow down and fully appreciate the place you’re in.

Responsible travel retreats offer the best of both worlds as they are soothing for your mind, body and soul as well as being kind to Mother Nature too!

How To Be Aware Of Greenwashing When It Comes To Responsible Travel?

What is “greenwashing”?

When planning a trip with responsible travel in mind, it is important to be aware of Greenwashing. Greenwashing is a form of marketing in which a company claims that its products, policies, or services are environmentally-friendly, or “green”, without having sufficient evidence to prove it. Unfortunately, Greenwashing happens in a number of industries and travel is most definitely one of them.

How To spot Greenwashing?

Greenwashing can sometimes be hard to spot as the language sounds convincing, but it is vital that you delve a little deeper to discover the facts before believing everything you read.

Look back at the above tips for being a responsible traveller. Does the company you’re planning on travelling with align with your values when it comes to people and the planet? Feel free to email them to outright ask them what their policies are when it comes to hiring local people, using sustainable energy and single-use plastics. If they don’t have a transparent ethos or perhaps don’t even reply, then the greenwashing alarm bell should start to ring!

Another way of delving a little deeper to find out valuable information is to see whether a hotel or tour operator is accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The GSTC is an independent body that certifies tourism businesses based on global baseline standards of sustainable travel and tourism.

Hopefully you now know more about responsible travel, why it’s important and how you can bring this ethos into your own travel experiences. If you have any more questions about responsible travel, please feel free to get in touch.