Responsible travel is about the attitude you take and the choices you make when travelling – to respect and benefit the local people, their cultures, economies and the environment.
While it’s up to all of us to be conscientious globetrotting individuals, Intrepid makes it easier by building responsible travel fundamentals into each and every one of our trips. When you hit the road with us, you leave lighter footprints, invest your travel dollars in local communities, show respect and curiosity for different cultures and traditions, and experience genuine connections with the people you meet along the way.
Our style of travel involves:
- Real life experiences which promote cross-cultural understanding.
- Using public transport (where possible).
- Staying in smaller-scale locally owned accommodation (where possible).
- Buying locally produced food and drink, and purchasing souvenirs from local artisans.
- Spreading the economic benefits of travel by purchasing from a range of local suppliers.
- Minimising plastic waste (where possible).
- Careful management of limited energy and water resources.
- Avoiding the exploitation of the vulnerable – including women, children, animals and endangered species.
Intrepid’s responsible travel policy
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by clicking on the headings below.
Intrepid promotes positive and meaningful exchanges between our business, our travellers and the local places we visit. We do this by:
• Respecting different cultures in all destinations we travel to.
• Respecting local religions, religious places and rituals.
• Observing and respecting local customs and etiquette.
• Encouraging local interaction and understanding of the local way of life.
• Emphasising appropriate dress standards.
• Asking permission before photographing.
• Forbidding the use of illegal drugs on our trips.
• Portraying destinations fairly and respectfully in our communications and marketing material.
We work to maximise the benefits generated by tourism for local economies and communities. We do this by:
• Employing predominantly local staff and leaders within our operational teams (either our own Destination Management Companies, or suppliers who employ locals).
• Designing and operating trips to feature local suppliers or suppliers who directly benefit the local community and economy.
• Encouraging our travellers to purchase from local suppliers and use local service providers, as well as supporting social enterprises, local trade, arts and crafts.
• Purchasing sustainable and locally produced goods and services rather than imported products.
• Ensuring we have fair employment practices in place (and using suppliers who have similar employment practices).
• Involving the local community in decision making.
• Paying relevant taxes.
• Issuing each of our suppliers with our Supplier Code of Conduct to influence our supply chain to operate in a more sustainable way.
• Not engaging in any form of bribery, corruption or fraudulent activities.
We aim to contribute to the preservation of natural and built environments in the destinations we visit, and to reduce the negative impacts our operations may have on the environment. We do this by minimising the use of resources (energy, water, waste) and reducing our carbon emissions in our offices, on our trips and in the destinations we visit.
In our offices
• Implementing energy conservation initiatives (such as more efficient lighting/equipment).
• Ensuring better waste management by using ‘avoid, reuse, reduce, recycle’ principles.
• Adopting better purchasing practices (eg. sourcing products with post-consumer recycled content).
• Implementing water-saving initiatives to reduce consumption.
On our trips
• Using local transport where safe, reliable and feasible, and when this is not feasible, using private, locally owned transport.
• Ensuring our vehicles/fleets are well maintained and fuel-efficient.
• Encouraging travellers to minimise their waste and water usage on the trip.
• Encouraging our suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices or choosing suppliers who already have greener practices in place.
• Eating at local eateries (limiting food miles).
• Shopping at local markets offering local produce, items, souvenirs etc.
In the destinations we visit
• Understanding the environmental issues in destinations and minimising our direct impact (eg. if there’s a local deforestation issue, we’ll avoid purchasing and using firewood for a campfire).
• Ensuring our passengers preserve and do not contaminate the local water supply.
• Observing all national and marine park visitor rules.
• Using a ‘take in, take back out’ system of waste management in remote regions and national parks.
• Using established or existing tracks and paths.
• Minimising the use of intrusive devices (such as lights) and keeping noise to a minimum at culturally significant sites and other sensitive places.
• Discouraging travellers from touching fragile environments (eg. coral or formations in caves).
We protect and look after people – in particular, our most vulnerable – by observing basic human rights principles as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ensuring we are promoting among our staff, travellers, local communities and suppliers/business partners, their right to be treated with dignity, equality, freedom and respect.
How we protect women and minorities:
We promote equality through:
o Supporting enterprises run or staffed by women and/or minorities where available (such as local co-operatives, education initiatives etc.)
o Seeking women and minorities to be represented in decision-making that affects their local communities where possible.
o Ensuring we are not taking part in any activities or using suppliers/services that discriminate against, exploit or traffic women and/or minority groups.
How we protect children:
We protect children (those 17 years of age and under) from all forms of abuse:
o We do not employ children, nor do we use suppliers or patron places that allow children to perform work that is illegal or likely to jeopardise the child’s health, safety or morals.
o We put in place strong measures to ensure that Intrepid’s respective suppliers, travellers and partners are not involved in the exploitation of children, including training relevant employees/leaders on child protection and raising awareness among our passengers on how to report incidents of child exploitation.
o We promote credible initiatives that safeguard and assist in the positive development of children (eg. schools and childcare initiatives).
o We do not visit children’s shelters or orphanages on our itineraries or on press/media trips.
You can read more about how we aim to protect children by reading our Child Protection Policy.
We oppose any exploitative or illegal practices and those that have a negative impact on animal welfare. As a company we work towards promoting the five freedoms that should be available to all animals, wild or domestic:
o Freedom from hunger and thirst.
o Freedom from discomfort.
o Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
o Freedom to express normal behaviour.
o Freedom from fear and distress.
We conduct appropriate research to ensure we do not promote, visit or participate in any activities that are failing to uphold the five freedoms listed above.
You can read more about how we aim to protect wildlife by reading our Animal Welfare Policy.
We develop meaningful partnerships with organisations and projects that care for the community and environment through fundraising, advocacy or lobbying activities. We only work with organisations who can demonstrate:
• Good governance over their projects (that they are legal, transparent and accountable).
• Integrity to fulfil their mandate and measure and evaluate the impact of their programs.
• They do not participate in any activities that harm people, animals or the environment.
• They do not force religious or political affiliations on others.
• They are not solely reliant on funds from Intrepid Travel.
• Peacefulness in their aims and objectives
We do not offer short-term, unskilled voluntourism opportunities on our itineraries.
For more information about the partners we support through The Intrepid Foundation, please see www.theintrepidfoundation.org.
Intrepid’s top 11 responsible travel tips
- Before leaving home learn as much as possible about the countries you are visiting – the religion and culture, the local rules and values.
- Learn some language and don’t be afraid to use it – simple pleasantries will help break the ice. Keep practising.
- Learn what’s appropriate behaviour and body language. Like the concept of ‘saving face” in Asia or giving the thumbs up in western or central Europe.
- Support locally owned businesses, hotels, restaurants and other services. Eat local food and drink local brands and brews. Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where convenient – you'll meet local people and get to know the place.
- Think first. It’s best not to eat in restaurants, shop in stores or visit local shows, markets or zoos that promote cruelty or exploitation of endangered species.
- Shop from traditional artisans and for locally made products, helping keep traditional crafts alive and favour local products over imported items. Bargain if that is a local practice, but bear in mind that a small amount to you could be extremely important to the seller.
- Dress respectfully with an awareness of local standards. Dress modestly at religious sites and check what swim wear is suitable for pools and the beach.
- Always ask first before photographing or videoing people. Send them back copies of photos to help make it a two-way exchange.
- Be wary of giving gifts or money to beggars, children and people you have just met. Supporting the community through a local school, clinic or development project may be more constructive.
- Leave only footprints…take care of the environment as you would your own home. Take out all you take in, to areas away from the cities. Use alternatives to plastic and say ‘No’ to plastic bags. For cigarette butts, an empty film container makes a perfect portable container.
- After returning home think how you can support programs and organisations that are working to protect the welfare, culture and environment of where you’ve been lucky to visit.
Read more about our responsible travel commitments