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Travellers always make an impact on their destination. The part we get to choose, however, is it a positive impact or a negative one?

If you’re the kind of traveller who wants to protect the places you’re visiting, and respect the local people, then this is the list for you. Here are ten ways to ensure the impact you make whilst you’re travelling is a positive one – both for the communities you visit, and for yourself.

How to be a Responsible Traveller

Go local

Mekong Delta homestayLocal Asian cafe

We travel to see the world, and you’re best placed to do that if you engage with local communities. By choosing to spend your money in a locally owned café (rather than the recently opened Starbucks) you’re supporting local business over than a global chain.

Exodus deliberately seeks out locally owned and run accommodation. That could mean anything from a rural agriturismo in Italy to a rural homestay with a family in India, but the one thing that never changes is the chance it gives you to meet and spend time with local people.

Because here’s the thing – you’ll get a more authentic experience too. So going local is better for local people and their economy, but it’s also better for you as a traveller. Everybody wins.

Pack a water bottle

Discarded plastic bottles are the bane of every responsible traveller’s life. Exodus is working double-time to reduce the amount of plastic waste on our tours, from providing safe, boiled drinking water whilst camping to keeping a communal supply of water for your group to share.

All you need to do is bring your own reusable water bottle, and we’ll be able to decant easily into it – meaning your destination will stay beautiful and unspoilt for years to come, and you’ll save a fortune on bottled mineral water.

Learn more about how we aim to ban the bottle.

Ask permission before you paparazzi

Photos are an important part of travelling. It’s how you capture those memories to take home with you forever. But never forget that when you’re photographing people, the rules are different to snapping iconic sights.

When taking photos of local people, think how you’d feel if someone started taking photos of you as you went about your daily life – probably quite annoyed!

And in some cultures, photography is viewed with huge amounts of suspicion and hostility. Always ask permission first, and if they refuse, respect their wishes.

Say No to Elephant Riding

Top 10 Tips to Make You a Better TravellerElephants roaming freely in their natural habitat

There are many better, safer ways you can interact with these amazing, intelligent creatures when you travel. Elephant riding is a cruel and unnecessary evil – the process of training an elephant is abusive, and many are kept in unacceptable conditions and regularly beaten throughout their lives.

Instead, choose to see these wonderful animals roaming freely in the wild, where they belong.

Respect local culture

This one is so destination-specific it’s hard to give sweeping advice. But remember to be considerate when you travel. Some countries are more conservative about dress (both men and women), and different gestures can mean different things in different parts of the world.

In Britain, the hand gesture we know as the okay sign is completely harmless – not so in Peru, where it is a huge insult. Be aware of local customs and expectations, and ask for advice if you’re not sure.

Your holiday, their home

The most important thing to remember is that you are visiting people’s homes, so think how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Sustainable Souvenirs

Craftsman hard at workWood carving

Don’t buy products made of endangered species or with destructive consequences – carved mahogany trinkets, crocodile skin purses, ivory statues are all off limits for the responsible traveller. But it’s no hardship considering the wealth of lovingly handcrafted souvenirs you can buy from local markets and artisan stalls, where local people have poured time and art into their products.

You’ll end up with keepsakes that promote a mutually beneficial interaction with a community, and it’ll be all the more precious for it.

Pack For A Purpose

Wondering what to do with that little pocket of extra space in your bag? Ditch the extra fleece and check out the Pack For A Purpose website. We’ve teamed up with this great little charity to help you identify any resources needed at schools or medical clinics around the world to bring out with you when you’re travelling.

These small contributions go a long way and are the best way of donating locally – handing out pens or sweets to children, whilst well-intentioned, will usually lead to begging and often the children skip out on school in the hopes of begging treats off well-meaning tourists.

Donate through Pack For A Purpose and you can be sure your donations will have their intended effect.

Remove all excess packaging

When packing, ensure you remove any excess packaging – especially off any new purchases. In some destinations it’s difficult to dispose of waste properly and recycling is almost impossible, so getting rid of it at home where it can be disposed of effectively is a far better option.

Plus it’ll leave space in your bag in case you wanted to buy anything along the way, supporting the local economy as you go.

Connect with people.

Trekker and Guide, HimalayaMountain trekking

Travel builds a bridge between cultures, nationalities and religions. Taking the time to strike up a conversation and connect with people is one of the best, and most interesting parts, of travelling. Even when you don’t share a common language, communication is key to making the most of your adventure, even if that’s mostly a cheery smile and a hopeful bit of miming. 

Browse more of our tours below and start planning your next trip.