By Kenneth Magat Jr.
Looking at pictures of a new place fills us with desire, but actually experiencing that same place – being able to see, smell, touch, and hear it – that fills us with serenity, wonder, and unparalleled joy. With travel, the potential for discovery and learning is seemingly infinite. In the best possible way, you are forced to reorient your priorities, expand your perspective, and evolve beyond what is comfortable into something better, something more. But far from that experience, we should also be responsible travelers. Become responsible individuals that minimize the impacts we create on the places we visit.
Here are a few tips on how you can become a responsible traveler:
1.Plan ahead and prepare.
Create your itinerary ahead of time. Creating an itinerary will help you save your time during traveling (tourist spots, places you want to visit, restaurants) gives you more time to spend for your travel too.
Make some research about the place and their weather, so that you can have the right clothing and protection that you need for yourself.
2. Respect rules and regulations on the places that you will visit. Follow traffic rules. If you’re going to drive bring your license with you. Always wear your seat belt or wear your helmet if you’re riding a motorbike. But if you are a commuter, ride on designated bus/jeepney stop.
3. Make friends. Come as a stranger, leave as a friend. Enjoy their culture. Learn and be amazed with how rich their culture is.
4. Dispose your waste properly. Try to minimize your plastic use. Bring your own tumbler, water bottle, utensils, metal straws and shopping bag. Segregate your waste. Do not throw your waste on the ocean or in the mountains. Throw it in the designated trash bins. Practice proper waste disposal in all areas.
5. Leave what you find. If it’s forbidden then don’t take it. Don’t pick flowers or leaves. Do not vandalize.
6. Respect other tourists. Be courteous. Greet and respect the locals. With or without tourism, they are happy and contented with what they have.
7. Dress appropriately. Always ensure proper attire for awareness of local standards. It’s a good idea to always travel with a scarf or shawl. What’s appropriate for you may not be appropriate to their culture.
8. Enjoy each place you visit. Remember, travel not to escape life but for life not to escape you.
9. Shop locally. When it comes to eating, sleeping and buying souvenirs, choosing where you spend your money can have a massive impact on the community. By having dinners, lunch or any other meals at a local eatery, staying in a family-run guest house or purchasing a trinket from a street vendor, you are helping to inject money directly into the local economy.
10. Look at the bigger picture when bargaining. Think about how far that extra bit of cash could go for the person you are dealing with. If you can spend in expensive food and cocktails or expensive hotels, then think twice before bargaining.
11. Educate others to become responsible travelers. Being a responsible traveler might come naturally to some, but others may just not be aware about the implications of their actions. If you see someone unintentionally doing something that is detrimental to the environment or to the local people and culture, perhaps mention something in a friendly way. Start discussions about responsible travel with people in your hostel, hotel or who you are on tour with. It is only through education that we can help spread the word about sustainable tourism.