Responsible Travel, Travel Inspiration, Travel Tips
Comments 23

Will Your Travel Memories be Someone Else’s Travel Disappointments?

Have you ever walked barefoot on smooth white sand, alongside azure waters so clear that you could savor the civilization beneath it, right from where you stood?

Have you ever conquered a mountain range and felt belittled by the majesty of its rock formations and the isolation of its snow-capped peaks?

Ten years from now, the sand will be pebbled, the waters will be colored a shade of brown, the snow-capped peaks will be reduced to road-blocking hurdles on a ruthlessly carved mountain road, the untouched paths you’ve tread will turn into the bustling next door neighborhood, and your travel memories will be someone’s travel disappointments. But you can change that, one trip and one tip at a time.

Know before you go.

Even on a blind date, you’d try to gauge as much about a person as you can, before trying to woo them. Think of your travel destination, its ecology and its local people the same way. When you fit into their culture, you’ll always carry a part of it with you, and what better way of preserving something so fragile?

Pack, unpack, repack.

The first time, pack as you always would. The second time, pack as though the environment is watching:

  • Carry as little plastic as possible. You don’t want to regret it for 500 years, which is how long it takes for plastic to degenerate.
  • Carry one good water bottle and try re-filling it wherever you go. The environment gives you clean water. Don’t return the favor with numerous plastic mineral water bottles.
  • Use biodegradable detergents and soaps if you are visiting or camping near water bodies. You want to leave them better than you found them.
  • Try to decrease the original weight of your baggage by half. That’s decreasing your carbon emissions by [half into the number of flights you take].
pack light, responsible travel tips, eco travel

Photo credit: Mollypop

Eat, drink, breathe local.

Support the local economy as much as possible. Order local dishes wherever you go, buy local raw materials for cooking instead of packaged foods, try the local alcohol if you must drink, and use water as though it’s a local luxury. The more you immerse yourself into everything local, the more you’ll make of your travels.

Remember that some things are priceless.

Your master card is just not good enough, when it comes to the natural or cultural heritage of the place you’re visiting. The locals might win you over with a beautiful fossil or an ancient artifact, but think twice before buying it. With each such transaction, you incentivize them to seek, pick and further commercialize such artifacts.

The same goes for picking local medicinal plants and flowers; they could either decay in your living room or sustain the ecology of the region.

Many a times, we are floored by the attachment and laughter of the local children. At the cost of that twinkle in their eyes, refrain from giving them gifts or tempting them with your gizmos; consumerism breeds consumerism.

kids, smile, street kid, india, responsible travel tips, eco travel

Photo Credit: Deep Hazra

Volunteer as you travel.

Touch-and-go travel is passé. To really travel is to experience a different lifestyle, adapt to a different culture, communicate in a different language, adopt a different dressing style, cook a different cuisine, and familiarize with a different geography.

Volunteer traveling could transform you from a tourist to a traveler, and gradually to a local. You don’t need to be a college graduate taking a gap year, or subject yourself to an extended period of isolation. All you need to do is find an organization in your region of travel, and spend a week or two on a project that could use your expertise. Be warned though, volunteer travel can be addictive on many levels!

Spill the secret.

Whether it’s your best friend or a chance travel acquaintance, don’t lose the opportunity to play Fairy Godmother to the environment. Lead by example, and show everyone around you that responsible travel is not something that only environmentalists can dream of. It takes just an extra ounce of effort, and could be worth a decade of appreciation.

spill the secret, gossip, responsible travel tips, eco travel

Photo Credit digitalART2

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What are responsible travel practices you adopt on your own travels?

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This post has been featured on BootsnallTravel Another India & The Alternative.

Also read: 4 offbeat ecotourism experiences in India. 

To read & share more travel stories, join me on Facebook & Twitter.

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23 Comments

  1. Very thoughtful! I do much of what you say already–thanks for sharing and making it a more conscious effort on my part. When I was 18 I traveled to Europe on an art history study tour. When I was in Rome, especially, but really all over, I was often embarrassed by the other Americans who were so obviously visiting the city. One couple actually took a little tupperware bottle and filled it with holy water from St. Peter’s! And took a picture of each other doing it. Others barged in on a wedding in progress in a local church, wanting to take a picture of the historic locale. That trip made me realize that in travel it is so important to treat others as you wish to be treated–and then some. You are a guest, act like it! Please, thank you, authentic interest and appreciation go a long way, even if you are not fully fluent in the local language.

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    • You’re so right, Patti. Glad there are travelers like you 🙂 I’m starting to learn these tricks as I travel, and it goes a long way to really immerse you in the place you are. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  2. Great post Shivya! Definitely, a good research before you travel comes a long way. For example, I ensure that products that I buy are locally made and were produced in an environmentally-friendly manner. And I make sure that any tours, zoos, or dives that I join are done sustainably. Even small stuff like paying carbon offset for flights or keeping small trash to yourself can go a long way.

    Keep it up!
    -Jerick

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    • Thanks Jerick & welcome to The Shooting Star 🙂 That’s great, we need more responsible travelers like you, especially in mountain terrains. Hope the generations after us can reap the benefits of our little efforts.

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  3. You definitely have a huge wealth of travel experience documented here! I’m yet to read them all, but first time here and Im sure to frequent more.

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    • Thanks Ghost Rider, and welcome to The Shooting Star! Hope you’ll enjoy my travels virtually 🙂 See you around.

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  4. manchitra says

    your analyse things around and you are sensitive to the environment. Good thought of a youngster. Hope many will read your post.

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    • You read it, Chitra, that’s a start 🙂 We need to start a domino effect and get everyone, young & old, on board!

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  5. I really enjoyed this thoughtful post. Some things I practice, some I definitely need to work on. You’ve done excellent here Shivya.

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  6. This is a good reminder that you can always do more in terms of traveling well. For me, I think the most important imprint you can leave is to knock down stereotypes. Sadly not everyone is going to recycle, but you have the opportunity to change the ways in which people think about you and your nation. The same goes for the traveler. Respect obviously needs to go in that suitcase on any trip.

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    • You’re so right, Suzy. We need to get rid of so much from our suitcase to pack in respect for the people & environment of the places we travel to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  7. Gouthami says

    Superb writing, Shivya! Everything else I manage to do – it is usually my packing that is too much. For my next trip, let me tacklet that as well! Thanks 🙂

    Gouthami – Travel Another India

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  8. Great post Shivya. We can all use a good reminder like this. I definitely agree with the encouragement to try volunteering on your travels. When we go just as tourists, the tendency is to not be as responsible with the local resources and environment because we are on vacation. In and out. When we stick around for a while, it gives us a chance to recognize how we can contribute to the environment, rather than take from it.

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    • Thanks Claire! I absolutely agree. Volunteer travel not only gives us the chance to understand the ecology of a place so much better, but also allows us to really understand a place, its people, and everything it represents. It’s probably the most enriching form of travel. Thanks for sharing that thought.

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  9. Pingback: 4 offbeat ecotourism experiences in India. | The Shooting Star

  10. Just loved it.. Great thoughts come in such small packages with a wealth of meaning left for the reader to imbibe within.. Thanks for being what you are

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