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The privilege of responsible travel

Seeing the world beyond your front door is a privilege. At Purposeful Travel, we believe with that privilege comes a responsibility to visit far-flung destinations in a way that respects local cultures, wildlife, and natural surroundings.

Travel is, inherently, a carbon-producing activity. The heartbreaking effects of climate change are evident in some of our most-loved travel destinations. At the same time, tourism provides funding and infrastructure that can help those communities recover. It’s imperative, therefore, that we make thoughtful travel choices that reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and uplift the communities we visit.

Here are a few suggestions from our Responsible Travel guide:

  • Respect the communities you pass through. The wonder and challenge of travel is that it invites us to experience a culture different from our own. Learn a bit about that culture before you go and, as you would when visiting a friend’s home, adapt your behavior to local norms. Dress appropriately; blend in like a local. If you’re unsure about what is culturally acceptable in your destination, check with your tour operator or travel advisor before you go.

  • To reduce your climate change impact, consider rail travel where possible and enjoy the scenery you’d miss from above the clouds. If you must fly, order your travel logically so you get the most bang for your carbon buck. Select non-stop flights to avoid multiple, heavy carbon-producing take offs and landings. And once you’ve nailed down your flight plans, purchase carbon offsets for each leg of your journey through your airline or an independent carbon offset program.

  • Carry a reusable water bottle and/or travel mug, as well as reusable cutlery and a packable tote bag. Avoid traveling with any lightweight disposable plastics such as bags, straws, or cutlery. Many countries have banned disposable plastics and may confiscate them and/or fine the carrier at points of entry. Check your destination’s regulations. Be mindful of the trash you create as you travel, and make sure you get it into a proper receptacle.

  • Treat your tour and hospitality staff with kindness, gratitude, and respect for their hard work and professionalism. Know the tipping norms for the areas you visit and activities you book. When in doubt, tip generously within the acceptable range for the service, and be aware that significantly over-tipping can be experienced as patronizing and rude. At Purposeful Travel, we’ll always offer tipping guidance before you take your trip so you’ll be prepared and confident in the amount you give.

As the old adage attributed to Chief Seattle says, “take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.” Traveling responsibly isn’t hard; it just requires that you make thoughtful choices about your impact on the world around you. If you would like our complete Responsible Travel guide, request a free copy.

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