When you invite someone in your home, whether you know them or not, you expect them to be respectful. No one wants a houseguest who leaves trash on the floor, who turns up the thermostat, insults the residents and kicks their feet up on the coffee table without permission.
What responsible travel (or "conscious travel") means is simply taking that basic guiding principle and applying it to the way you conduct yourself abroad. It's a far better way to travel. It doesn't affect how much you enjoy your vacation - you're still going to have a great time - but it ensures that the people, culture and environment you're visiting are also positively affected.
In this article, let's take a closer look at what responsible travel is, why it matters and a few simple measures you can take to be a more conscientious traveller.
Defining "Responsible Travel"
Responsible travel doesn't mean you have to limit your vacation in any way. It only asks you to be mindful of the people, culture and environment of your destination. It's more or less the way most of us travel anyways!
People: When you travel, be respectful in your interactions and, if possible, support local communities and businesses.
Culture: Learn a little bit about the culture, even if it is in between relaxing by the beach and soaking in the nightlife. Pick up a few phrases in the local language and try to scratch beneath the surface of the local culture.
Environment: Leave the place the way you found it - or better! Be mindful of your ecological footprint.
Keep these few simple tenets in mind whether booking one of the many all-inclusive vacations by Travelzoo a quick weekend getaway.
Why Conscious Travel Matters
According to the Guardian, global tourism hit a record high last year, with around 1.4 billion people travelling abroad for holidays. These numbers aren't evenly spread across the planet - they inordinately cluster in popular tourist destinations, potentially disrupting local wildlife, changing the local economy and erasing the local culture.
Conscious travel matters because it attempts to preserve the natural beauty, quality of life and cultural vibrancy that we love about our favourite destinations.
How to Travel Responsibly
There are a number of ways to travel responsibly, but the easiest way is just to develop a houseguest's mindset. Thank the hosts, keep the space clean and abide by the house rules. As it pertains to the environment, consider limiting your waste by carrying reusable products and limiting emissions by taking a train, bus or bike to get around. As it pertains to people, be respectful and humble, supporting the local businesses when possible and being friendly wherever you go. As it pertains to culture, learn a bit while you travel - pick up a few phrases, learn a little history and, again, support local artisans and craftspeople.
Travelling responsibly doesn't detract from a fantastic vacation one bit. On the contrary, it ensures that the places you love to visit will remain as ecologically and culturally rich for as long as possible.