Ours is a world abounding with kaleidoscopic cultures, beautiful languages and vistas; so much to explore and experience. Wonderful as it is, your travel experience isn’t only about you and what you get out of it. In every city and country that you visit, you will be encountering other people who have different value systems and cultural practices that you have to respect. As you jot down your travel bucket list, be sure to include a do’s and don’ts list. We have put together a few travel dos and don’ts to help you make sure that you enjoy travelling but also make sure that you don’t disrespect the denizens of the places you are visiting. Travelling responsibly is all about being considerate and sensitive to what’s going on in the country or city you plan on visiting. As a tourist, you have rights but you also have responsibilities.


Do Your Research

If you have a clear and solid understanding of what is happening socially, culturally and politically in the country you are planning to visit, you will know what to do and what not to do when you get there. For instance, if you are planning on visiting a country that is going through a water crisis, once you’ve done your research, you will know to use water sparingly. The point is to enjoy a place and not add to the problems the citizens are facing. You also need to research what is accepted culturally so that you do not do, say or wear things that are offensive. If you plan on visiting spiritual, cultural or heritage sites, research the appropriate codes of conduct and of dress. 


Do Not Negotiate With Local Vendors  

You wouldn’t walk into a Louis Vuitton store and negotiate the price of a bag, would you? Then why do we do this with people who need our support the most? This behaviour exploits poverty and desperation, and it is not good for the economies of developing countries. Tourism contributes to the growth of a country’s economy and it also benefits local vendors. A lot of local vendors who sell in street markets depend on tourism to make ends meet; by trying to haggle, not only are you making it hard for them to earn a decent living but you are also devaluing and disrespecting their efforts to work for themselves. 



Be mindful when taking photos 

As noted by comedian KevOnStage, “Poverty is not an aesthetic.” Don’t use people’s lives as a backdrop for your Instagram pictures. Before taking photos, look around you and consider whether it would be appropriate to take a picture in that setting. If there are people around you, ask for their consent, especially if they are going to feature in your photograph. People are not props for your Insta profile—they are people and deserve to be respected, regardless of where they come from. Don’t go around taking pictures of everything; part of your research should include finding out what you can and cannot photograph in the country or city you are visiting.


Be an eco-friendly traveller

The tourism industry is booming in many countries as more people are exposed to the beauty of visiting a different place. As much as this may be good news for the economy of a country, mass tourism is starting to have adverse effects on the environment. Tropical areas such as the Caribbean, which is loved by travellers the world over, have had to bear the brunt of mass tourism. According to USA Today, “Tourism makes huge demands on the Caribbean’s water resources that are used for drinking, cooking, washing, swimming pools and air conditioning, reducing the volume of water available to local people.” Moreover, tourism has led to an increase in oil spills due to cruise ships that frequent the region. Part of responsible travelling is making sure that you leave the country you’re visiting in the same state as you found it in. Don’t litter, use as little plastic as possible and respect any outlined recycling requirements of the region; so instead of using plastic bottles, pack a reusable water bottle. Research other ways in which you can reduce your carbon footprint when visiting another country or region, like staying at a hotel that is eco-friendly. 

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