How responsible of a traveller are you? If you’re like us, sustainable tourism isn’t just something to talk about — it’s the mandate that guides your travels. And you know that being responsible doesn’t end once your plane touches down back home.
November 4th marks World Responsible Tourism Day, and we’re celebrating by doing what we do best: going local. We’re challenging our friends and followers (yes, that means you) to do their part by embracing the local life.
Need some ideas to get you going? Even if you’re not on the road right now, here’s how to celebrate responsible tourism right in your own backyard.
1. Shop at a local business
Skip the big box chains and grab your groceries at a local produce market, butcher shop, or seafood store. Not only are you supporting your local economy by going to the little guy, but you’re likely to have a much more pleasant experience. Chatting with an independent butcher about sustainable farming or with a cheesemonger about the best brie definitely wins over buying mass-produced, shipped-in anything. Don’t need groceries today? How about going on a shopping splurge at a local designer’s shop or local bookstore, or grabbing your morning coffee from an independent café?
2. Sign up for a language class
If English is your first language, you probably already know how fortunate you are to have your native tongue spoken around the world. From airport signage to restaurant menus, it’s usually pretty easy for English-speaking travellers to get around without speaking the local language. But really, where’s the fun (or responsibility) in that? Part of the excitement of travel is embracing all that’s different on our great planet, and one of the biggest differences is how we speak. So why not celebrate World Responsible Tourism Day by learning the local language of your next destination? Even if your accent is off and your syntax terrible, your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
3. Get your green on
Yes, we know you recycle and would never, ever litter. But is there anything else you can do to be a little nicer to Mother Nature this week? Maybe take public transit instead of your car to work, or remember to carry a shopping bag with you so you don’t need to take home more plastic bags? Or venture out to a local park for some community clean-up? Many cities have non-profit, volunteer groups that go around helping to make their neighbourhoods cleaner. If you don’t want to join the trenches, donate to an environmental cause you support. Don’t just complain about global warming — do something about it.
4. Smarten up your consumer skills
Do you know where your money goes? We’re not talking about how much you spend, but rather, where it ends up in the consumer chain — and whether you agree with the practices supported by the business making the profit. Show your commitment to animal and human rights by avoiding restaurants, stores, and markets that support unethical labour practices, and shows or zoos that promote cruelty to animals or exploitation of endangered species.
5. Be kind
It’s so simple, but the best way to be a more responsible traveller or member of your community? Just be nice. Smile. Be friendly. Make friends with your airplane seat mate. Say “please” and “thank you” in the local language. Share your leftovers with a person in need. Buy a coffee for the guy in line behind you. Spread the word about a local community project on social media. Ask your co-worker if she needs any help on a project. Be patient and ready to go with the flow. Sure, we’ve all been grumpy because the subway was delayed, you’re hungry or jet lagged, or you spilled your cappuccino down the front of a new shirt, but kick all that out of your head and help to make someone else’s day a little nicer (it’ll make you feel better, too, trust us). Best part: kindness, generosity, and respect are totally free to give.