11 responsible travel tips for your next trip

written by Intrepid Travel May 25, 2022
Playing music at a camp in Botswana

It’s no secret that we love travelling. But we figure that if we’re to spend our days exploring the world, the right thing to do is travel with the world in mind.

In our books, being a ‘good’ traveller means being a responsible traveller. We know, having responsibilities while travelling doesn’t sound like fun but it’s easy to do (and we’re all better off for it, too).

So, here are a few easy tips for being a better traveller:

1. Slow down the pace

The world is a big place, and you’re never going to appreciate it by trying to cram too much in. Stop rushing around and take time to look around wherever you find yourself. Spend that little bit longer getting to know a city or town.

Responsible travel tip: Take local transport, ride a bike or spend a day exploring on foot.

Cycling in Marrakech

Photo by Pat O’Neill.

2. Talk to the locals

Want to have the most enriching experience possible? Talk to people. Talk to the cab drivers, the shop attendants, the bar staff, the guy selling fish at a street stall – talk to as many people as you can. You’ll learn so much more about the culture, the history, the food…

Responsible travel tip: Learn a few words of the local language. People will appreciate it – even if your pronunciation isn’t right.

Traditional Costa Rican food

Photo by Kyriakos Alexopolous.

3. Put your camera away

Don’t spend your entire trip looking through the lens of a camera. Do that, and you’ll miss the real world and perhaps find that when you return home and look through your snaps, there’ll be some places that you don’t really remember being at.

Responsible travel tip: Take a moment to get to know the locals you meet, and always ask permission before taking someone’s picture.

4. Know where you are

Wherever you’re travelling, try to have some idea of what the culture’s like and read about significant historical events. You’ll gain greater empathy for the people you meet and skip those easy to avoid cultural faux pas that can make people feel uncomfortable.

Responsible travel tip: Spend some time researching the local culture and look up the latest news about the destination before visiting.

Woman shopping at market in Egypt

Photo by Ryan Bolton.

5. Refill your water bottle

While it may not always be convenient, we encourage you to avoid buying plastic bottles of water. Otherwise, look to buy larger bottles if you must purchase water. If you’re unsure of the water quality and keen to go a step further, you can sterilise your water with a steripen or through boiling methods.

Responsible travel tip: Pack your drink bottle. Check with your hotel or your guide as to whether filtered water dispensers are available during your trip.


6. Reduce your use of plastic bags

Plastic bags are toxic for the environment. They kill animals that mistake the bags for food. They clog up waterways and are one of the largest contributors to landfill on the planet. In short, plastic bags are incredibly harmful.

Responsible travel tip: Say no to plastic when shopping in markets and take your own reusable bag or use an Intrepid tote.

A smiling woman in Greece

Photo by Stew Miles.

7. Think like a local

Support local stores and vendors, eat where the locals go and try to stay in places that support the local economy. That doesn’t necessarily mean living like a local, but it might mean thinking like a local.

Responsible travel tip: Shop for locally made products and support local businesses that make a direct contribution to the economy.


8. Dress for comfort and respect

While it might be okay for you to bare it all at home, in many countries it is disrespectful to show too much skin, especially in places of worship.

Responsible travel tip: Be prepared to cover your shoulders and knees, and remove hats when in traditional areas and places of worship.

Image by Mirae Campbell

9. Say no to animal cruelty

Travellers are more aware than ever of the mistreatment of animals in activities like elephant riding safaris, cub petting and walking with lions.

Responsible travel tip: say no to activities that involve physical interaction with animals. When viewing animals in the wild, keep your distance and make sure you don’t crowd them.


10. Be patient

It’s easier said than done but this travel tip is an all-rounder that comes in handy. There will be moments of frustration – airports (and getting around in general) can be a particularly potent source of travel angst. Just take it easy, try to relax and do your best not to worry too much. BREATHE.

Salt flats in Bolivia

Image by Stephen Parry

11. Have fun!

There’s a reason why you’ve packed your bags to go on an adventure. Leave everything behind and enjoy every moment. Try something new, be curious and take it all in.

Feeling like an adventure? Check out Intrepid’s small group trips, the leaders in responsible travel.


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