Responsible travel tips
We’ve suggested some ways you can travel more ethically and responsibly
How to travel more responsibly
When it comes to making travel as sustainable and ethical as possible, we recognise that big changes need to come from the top.
But, there are small decisions and actions you can take, too. When travelling consciously your environmental impact and the people who live in local areas, you can not only minimise any negative impact, but bring positive benefits to the people you visit.
Culture & People
1. Buy and eat locally
Just as you might do at home, look out for local businesses where you can. Choose independent shops, restaurants and bars when possible. This also helps support local food producers who supply them, which strengthens a full supply chain.
When choosing souvenirs, opt for locally crafted items rather than picking them up at the airport or supermarket. Not only will you be supporting their hard work and skills, but you can directly support the local community who make them. If you’re haggling in a local market, be mindful – while it might be a more common practice in other cultures, be wary of undercutting business owners who depend on a fair price for their wares.
2. Support community projects
The best way to help people in need when travelling is to support established projects and charities.
You could research the best non-profit foundations before your visit to make a donation. Or, see if there are ways to support them while you’re there, such as by taking items in need with you. Keep an eye out for initiatives such as women’s co-operatives that produce handmade goods.
3. Learn the local culture
Always try to be respectful of the way of life in the country you visit.
Follow any cultural dress codes and do some research to be understanding of their worldview. If you want to know more, opt for cultural experiences that showcase local traditions, history and heritage. It’s great to learn some of the local language before you arrive, too – not only will you be able to communicate easier, but you open new doors to engage with the people who live and work there.
4. Take photos ethically
When travelling, it can be easy to take photos without fully considering your impact on the people in them.
Only take a photo of another person if you have their permission. Be wary of photos that might be considered exploitative – for example, if a person is suffering or isn’t able to consent to it.
If you’d like to take a photo with someone, take the opportunity to get to know them more first. Perhaps listen to some stories from them or purchase their crafts or food, so it’s more of a two-way interaction.
Never take a photo of a child without their parent’s permission. If the child looks uncomfortable in any way, don’t take it. If you’re concerned about the welfare of a child, report it to the appropriate local partner or authority.
5. Protect the welfare of children
When travelling, you might see children selling souvenirs to help support their family. While it can be hard to say no, it’s more helpful for their welfare to not support children earning money in this way. By giving them money, there is less chance of them being sent to school.
We also advise that you don’t visit local schools or orphanages during learning hours, as this disrupts essential education.
If you would like to help children in the country you’re visiting, we advise supporting our foundation charities including Child Aid and Pack for a Purpose.
Find out more about our charities.
Wildlife & Nature
6. Follow animal welfare advice
Unfortunately, animals are often exploited to cater to tourist demand.
You can, of course, see animals in the wild in a way that has a positive impact on their welfare and habitat. Many parks and reserves work to fund the conservation and restoration of important natural habitats. When done properly, in small groups without disturbing fragile eco-systems, you can leave having made a positive impact.
When looking for animal encounters, never support experiences that depend on captivity unless it’s supported by a trusted conservation or rehabilitation project. Always visit animals with a knowledgeable local guide who maintains a respectful distance from the animals. The animals should not be fed outside of their natural feeding habits or be performing tricks.
All ITC brands follow strict animal welfare policies and never recommend an experience that is unethical.
7. Preserve nature and wildlife
Nature reserves, animal sanctuaries and protected parks do a lot of good work in supporting vital eco-systems. Taking the time to support them when travelling helps you do your bit to positively impact the environment.
When visiting, always follow the guidelines given. Keep to the set paths and don’t disturb any animals you spot. Plants and flowers might seem small, but take care to not damage them or pick them.
8. Support local projects
There are plenty of local projects dedicated to helping endangered species of wildlife.
Take the time to learn more about what you can do to help, both while travelling and back at home. Whether it’s local work to protect coral reef, turtles or whales, take to time to fully understand the wider issues. When you have the right knowledge, your impact will last long after your holiday has finished.
Environment & Sustainability
9. Plastics and recycling
While it might be convenient to use plastic bottles and disposable items when travelling, it’s helpful to keep their use to a minimum – just like you might already do at home. To avoid buying bottled water, you could look into portable water filters or purifiers.
See if you can recycle any plastics you use, or take them home with you if you can’t find the right facilities. When you’re eating out, you can try to avoid using plastic straws and cutlery – or even take your own reusable versions with you! Be careful when buying toiletries for your holiday as many ‘travel size’ items use unnecessary plastic. Use what you already have where possible, or opt for plastic-free alternatives such as soap bars instead of shower gel.
If your hotel provides toiletries for you, be sure to use them fully before throwing the bottle away – and, only take them home if you plan to use them!
10. Only take what you need
Many hotels, resorts and lodges now run initiatives to keep laundry to a minimum. Where possible, reuse any towels to help conserve energy and water.
Be conscious of your lights and air-conditioning usage, too. Turn them off when they’re not needed so you’re not wasting energy. Similarly, when dining at buffets, don’t overfill your plate beyond what you plan on eating. If you can, opt for the local recipes, as these are more likely to be made from ingredients native to your destination.
11. Reduce your carbon use
Sometimes, if it’s safe to do so, walking or taking public transport can be an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of an internal flight, you might be able to take a train. If hiring a car, why not see if there’s an electric vehicle alternative? At Regent, our Travel Specialists have been exploring eco-friendly options, and introduced their first electric fly-drive in Slovenia.
Walking or cycling tours also offer a great, carbon-neutral way to explore – while also keeping you fit!
Consider a ‘slow travel’ style of exploring. By taking the time to connect to the people, culture and environment you’re visiting, you’ll be able to give back more. By heading away from main tourist areas, you can support more local communities while uncovering some hidden gems.
12. Choose sustainable hotels
Many hotels now run their own schemes or policies to help you travel sustainably when staying with them.
When choosing a hotel, why not see what sustainability efforts they’re making first? They might grow their own produce locally, support local communities or have removed plastic usage.
Simply by opting for hotels that take action to be more sustainable, you can easily travel in a more responsible way.
13. Travel out of peak season
Travelling outside of peak demand can have a positive impact on the world in many ways.
When tourists visit year-round, local communities benefit throughout the year – not just over a few select months. You’ll also help reduce the strain put on any resources that might impact local people.