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  • Writer's pictureRaajHtc Wildfire

How to be a responsible traveler?

Following is a list of things that each one of us can undertake in our

lifestyles and travels to help reduce the impact of global warming and

eventually combat climate change. These collective actions are a step

forward, towards a ‘Green Lifestyle’.

Responsible Tourism is about “making better places for people to live in

and better places for people to visit” - Harold Goodwin. Responsible

Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people,

and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more

sustainable. To make India a ‘Sustainable Tourism Destination’, the

traveler, the tourism industry, and the government will need to join

hands for responsible action.

These guidelines have been put together by the Responsible Tourism

Society of India, earlier known as the Ecotourism Society of India. It was

established by senior and committed industry professionals, government

officials, environmentalists, and a parliamentarian in 2008. RTSOI is

recognized by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India as it’s

‘Sustainability Partner’ through a Memorandum of Understanding in

March 2016. RTSOI is supported by a range of stakeholders across the

travel and tourism fraternity and multiple walks of life.

Planning your Holiday

Give preference for a Responsible Travel Company

Many travel companies conduct their businesses responsibly and

sustainably. Book with them to support their practices and encourage

others to do the same. Responsible Travel company details can be found

on Responsible Tourism Society of India. Explore destinations and get

acquainted with nature and biodiversity. Check for certifications and

their safety pledges. Make your trip experiential and adventurous and

use ‘green’ transportation that is fuel-efficient, safe, reliable, and

feasible. Prioritize activities such as cycling, hiking, and walking where


Give preference to Hotels with Responsible Practices

Many chains and independent hotels operate in-house green programs.

Check their websites to see what kind of ‘green’ practices they follow.

Choose a hotel that has a positive impact on the community and

destination. Ask them how they dispose of their greywater and if they

compost. Inquire about bathroom fixtures and toiletries, in-room

recycling bins, and the origin of the restaurant food. Ideally, food items

should be purchased within 150 km of the hotel location and offer

organic cuisine. Some may be accredited by certification programs such

as STCI by the RTSOI, the LEED certification, or other similar ones.

Ideally, a ‘green’ hotel should support the three pillars of sustainable

tourism: environmental, social, and economic.

In ecologically fragile and protected area destinations lookout for

ecolodges or homestays and support their conservation efforts.

When leaving home for your holiday

Don't leave without preparing your home for a holiday. Turn off light

switches and unplug all electricals other than the fridge, freezer, and

any other electrical appliances that need to stay on. Unsubscribe daily

newspapers and download your e-ticket instead of paper printouts.

As you Travel

Choose your Mode of Transportation

If travel time and physical issues are not a major concern, select a mode

of transport that allows you to offset carbon. One can use an Adventure

Travel Trade Association or United Nations carbon calculator to offset

the carbon footprint. On a road, journey try and share a vehicle.

Travel Light

Packing efficiently helps to reduce carbon emissions from aero planes.

The lighter the aircraft, the less fuel it burns, and hence decreased

carbon emission.

At the Destination

Bring your supplies

Carry refillable bathroom toiletries instead of using the mini amenities

provided in hotels/rented accommodation as they are generally nonbiodegradable.

Hotels should adopt refillable glass/ceramic containers

that are secured to the wall. This will help reduce waste and one-time


Dispose your waste Responsibly

While travelling by road, do not throw your plastic or paper waste

anywhere. Plastic will not degrade and both plastic and paper may be

consumed by grazing animals. Carry your waste back where it can be

segregated and disposed of responsibly.

Eat local

Support a local entrepreneur/business and try local dishes to

appreciate the local culture and support the local economy.

Cut Down on Waste and Conserve

Use insulated stainless-steel tumblers. To avoid single-use plastic, refill

your tumblers/flasks during your journey from hotels/guest houses

where they have reverse osmosis and/or UV filtered water available.

Conserve water and electricity as these are scarce resources. When not

in the room, switch off the lights. Reducing energy use helps to decrease

power plant emissions and combating climate change. At hotels/guesthouses, towels, and bed linen should be reused and not

put into the wash on a daily basis.

Decline non-reusable straws, coffee stirrers, and cutlery that are made

of one-time plastic. Encourage your fellow travellers to minimize their

waste and water usage on a trip.

Shop Local

Promote and purchase handicrafts, souvenirs directly from the local

community, or non-profit cooperatives. This would support destinations

and encourage people to retain their local culture. Do carry, a reusable

bag for purchases. Protect wildlife and habitats and do not buy products

made from protected and endangered plants or animals such as

seashells, shahtoosh shawls, etc. A detailed list is available on Traffic

and WWF.

Protect your Planet

Reduce your environmental impact by being a guardian of natural

resources, and all habitats including forests and wetlands. Respect

wildlife and its natural habitat. In protected areas, access only the

places open to visitors and avoid disturbing fragile environments and

locations such as coral reefs and archaeological finds. While in the

water, wear sunscreen that does not cause harm to the marine


Leave only a minimum footprint.

Leave No Trace

Anything you carry in, you should carry out. Pack reusable items such as

bags for shopping and drinking straws. Follow the recycling rules of the


Animal Welfare

Be aware of tourist activities that could potentially harm wildlife.

Prioritize animal welfare by being ethical and choosing tours and

attractions that do not cause suffering or abuse to animals. Wildlife SOS

recommends no elephant rides, lion petting, tiger selfies, snake

charmers, dancing monkeys, and bears. The process of domesticating

wild animals and especially elephants is inhumane. Don’t support

bondage animal tourism. You should also make sure to visit attractions

that do not capture animals from the wild. Animals in captivity should

have amenable living conditions. You should also make sure to not

touch, disturb, or feed any wildlife as this could harm the animals and

impact their ability to survive in the wild.

Respect Cultures

Take time to learn about local customs, norms, and traditions. Be

tolerant and respect diversity. Treat local communities and their culture

with respect. Avoid behavior that can offend the local community.

Gestures have different meanings in different cultures. One should be

mindful of this, especially while visiting religious and cultural sites.

Permission must be sought from local communities before taking


Explore Destinations Beyond

Several destinations today are faced with the phenomenon of ‘overtourism’.

Don’t follow the crowd. Excess only hurts the destinations and

does not add much to the local economy. Economic and social benefits

from tourism are significant when less frequently visited destinations

also attract visitors. It helps in the sustainable growth of the region.

Explore and taste local food, visit local markets, lesser-known protected

areas, this supports the local economy, inculcates a sense of pride

amongst the local community, and thus incentivizes them to stay on and

not migrate to cities.

On a Wildlife Safari

Use established or existing tracks/paths for nature walks while visiting

a national park/sanctuary. Wear earthy colors, do not converse in loud

voices, and try to enjoy the entire ecosystem rather than looking for

specific species. Be sensitive and respectable towards other fellow

travelers by giving everyone an equal chance to view and photograph

wildlife. Don't monopolize viewing specific spots while on a safari. For a

better experience, carry your binoculars and of course, remember the

golden rule of not littering.

On an Adventure Holiday

Observe the principles of ‘pack in, pack out’ for the management of

waste in remote regions and protected areas. Use established trails

while on a hike or trek.


A minimum distance of 100 ft should be maintained from freshwater

sources. To avoid pollution of the water source, never wash with

detergents and instead use bio-degradable washing agents.

The campsite should be left in a better state than what it was found like

and all non-biodegradable garbage should be carried back for proper

disposal. Cover all the toilet holes with dry mud and if the terrain allows

cover with grass turf.

Avoid Camp Fires

Local wood that can be foraged, should be left for the local community

for fuel where alternate options are not available for them. In high

altitude or other areas, carry solar lanterns and solar heaters. Whilst

camping, open fires should be discouraged to prevent forest degradation

and reduce carbon emissions. If forests are degraded at the site level,

avoid even purchasing and using firewood for campfires.

Support a Local Community

Support the local community in whatever way is appropriate. Education,

health, conservation is encouraged.

Understand Local Laws

Familiarize yourself with the local laws so that you don’t commit any

act considered criminal by the destination/country visited. Do not buy

products or items that are prohibited by national/international

Get the Next Generation Involved

Our children are the youth of tomorrow and if they see you being

responsible for your environment, they will do the same. They will travel

responsibly, conserve the environment, and respect local cultures.

We need to leave a planet worth living for.

14 views1 comment

1 comentário

Bhargava Ram
Bhargava Ram
28 de abr. de 2023

Very well thought out and informative article, very often we forget about the negative aspects of tourism but this article seemed like an eye opener for a thorough traveller like me and I hope it shall for many more! Thank you Rockys Exclusive and Travel x Living for this amazing information and even more amazing information for tour in Sri Lanka.

God bless you!

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