These tips to be a responsible traveller, can help to leave a lighter footprint. The days of all-in-one package holidays are gradually being replaced by more independent holidays that do not involve big hotels where holidaymakers get smashed, drop glass bottles everywhere, and visit bullfights.
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- Where you can, walk or cycle. And pick up all litter wherever you go. Other countries often don’t have councils to come pick it up later. Try to stay at sustainable lodgings, rather than big hotels.
- Read up on the 7 principles of Leave No Trace, which protects the land, animals and local water-ways (especially if you are having camp-fires etc). If you smoke or BBQ, follow the advice to the letter, as in hot countries especially, you could cause a serious wildfire (a discarded butt on dry grass is like lighting a piece of dry paper). Use a personal ashtray to safely extinguish cigarettes, until you find a bin.
- Try to eat at locally-owned places. Don’t travel to Malaysia, then have your lunch in McDonald’s.
- Wear a natural sunscreen that is free from microbeads, which deposit tiny particles of plastic into the oceans (never use human sunscreen on dogs and shower before letting them kiss you, if wearing natural sunscreens with zinc oxide – toxic to furry friends).
- Tyre flops are fine in the garden, but for the beach, rubber flops can biodegrade if lost in a wave.
- Be a responsible boater. If you fish, take all your waste with you, to avoid harming marine wildlife. Use funnels to change oil etc, and follow boating guidelines to avoid harm to dugongs and manatees (‘sea cows’).
- Respect the dress code. Many countries have strict religious beliefs, so wise up first, before you head into a temple. Ask before taking photos and don’t arrive tanked-up, upsetting the locals and demanding bacon and eggs. Travel is about expanding your horizons.
- Ask what the tipping culture is. In some places they don’t like tipping. In others, it is the main source of income. Learn a few words of the local language, so you can ask, if unsure.
- Be a flight volunteer. Soi Dogs (Thailand, a country with few adoptive homes and a dog meat trade) uses free baggage allowance of travellers, to fund dogs sent to loving homes.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome views of men and things cannot be acquired, by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. Mark Twain