The past two years have cast a revealing lens on our actions as humanity and the devastating effect they have on our planet. As we emerge from our Covid hibernation, travel is the first port of call for many and there is an overwhelming shift towards travelling responsibly and respectfully.
Travel is a privilege and should always be treated as such. The freedom to travel luxuriously comes with a responsibility to travel gently and mindfully. Do your research, make informed decisions and leave a lighter footprint. Be the kind of traveller you’d want to meet in your own country. We have a global responsibility to ensure our travel decisions directly benefit the land, wildlife and people of a destination.
Of course, responsible travel is far more than simply switching lights off, reusing towels and refusing plastic. This is a compilation of actions, both big and small, that travellers can take to ensure their travel decisions help make a meaningful difference.
Let’s all do better, be better, and travel better. We owe it to our planet.
4. Respect local cultures
One of the greatest gifts of travel is the people you meet—and learn from—along the way. Get out into the local communities, engage authentically and respectfully with different cultures and gain insight into their time-honoured traditions. Talk to the people you meet; everyone has a story to tell and their tales of perseverance and humility will often surprise and humble you.
Respect cultural traditions and always be mindful of local customs, beliefs and etiquette. Always ask before taking photographs of people, learn some words in the local language, and give back if you have the means.
5. Slow it down
Slow down to (re)appreciate the beauty and luxury of travel. Forego those exhausting, jam-packed itineraries with multiple legs and countless hurried transfers. Stay longer in one destination and take the time to properly unwind, explore and appreciate your surroundings (and each other). Create a deeper connection with the destination and its land, wildlife and people.
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7. Support local
Seek organisations that stimulate the local economy and create local employment in all facets of their business, from housekeepers, chefs and butlers to expert guides, sommeliers and senior management. Equally important is whether a property or restaurant’s food is sourced locally, ethically and sustainably.
Travellers can further help bolster the local economy while abroad, simply by the choices they make. Consider dining at local restaurants, seeking out the local hidden gems, selecting local operators, purchasing locally-made handicrafts, donating to local community-development or conservation-driven projects, and of course, tipping wherever possible.
10. Refuse plastic
Try to avoid plastic waste, not only abroad, but in everyday life, too. At &Beyond properties, there is no need to carry a reusable water bottle. The drinking water is purified and bottled on-site and always available to guests (still or sparkling) in their suites, the guest areas, at every meal and indeed on every game drive.
While post-Covid health measures have necessitated the hygienic, single-serve packaging of in-room and game drive snacks, our guests can rest assured that the clear, biodegradable wrapping is made from either wood cellulose or corn starch. For departing guests with a long journey ahead of them, our plentiful lunch-to-go bags are lovingly parcelled in a paper bag with carefully selected eco-friendly food packaging and utensils.
11. Pack smart
There are loads of simple packing hacks to help the responsible traveller. Packing lighter and more sustainably is made a whole lot easier with convenient reusable packing cubes. Not only do they keep all suitcase contents organised, but they also enable a far better use of space.
Don’t forget to pack a reusable bag. They’re handy for day trips and shopping excursions, thereby eliminating the need for unnecessary plastic bags en route. Travel with eco-friendly earbuds, pack reusable laundry bags and shoe organisers as opposed to plastic bags and try to avoid purchasing travel-sized amenities for every holiday; rather opt for bottles that can be refilled and reused, again and again.
And if you’re headed to the beach, make sure your sunscreen is reef-friendly and bring a reusable straw for those beach cocktails.
12. Respect the environment and its wildlife
Always travel with a ‘look, don’t touch’ philosophy. As the saying goes, take only photographs and leave only footprints. Respect the environment, don’t litter and leave a light footprint.
When it comes to wildlife, always be respectful and non-intrusive. Never feed the animals, especially those pesky monkeys and baboons that lurk around at mealtimes. Don’t get off the safari vehicle at sightings; the ranger will always advise when it’s safe to do so. If you need to stretch your legs or take a comfort break, just ask and a plan will be made.
While on safari, always keep your hands, photographic equipment, GoPros and selfie-sticks inside the frame of the vehicle. And although it sounds like a no-brainer (people do the strangest things), never cluck, meow, snap fingers or call out to get the attention of any animal, be it for a photograph or not.
The ‘look, don’t touch’ philosophy applies above and below the water. When snorkelling and scuba diving, avoid touching or standing on the fragile coral reef systems and don’t taunt or touch the ocean’s curious inhabitants.
To be amongst the planet’s wild creatures in their natural habitat is a privilege. Mother Nature always puts on a show … observe it respectfully.
13. Be a conscious consumer
Shop wisely, choose to support local artisans, and avoid illegal and unethical products, such as ivory, animal skins, fur, tortoiseshell, coral and other animal products.
14. Think twice
Turn the lights off when leaving the suite, don’t opt for a daily towel service and switch off the aircon when it’s not needed. Every bit really does help, even those small daily decisions.
15. Go paperless
Opt, wherever possible, for a paperless journey. While etickets are now the norm, consider switching to electronic itineraries, eVisas, online check-ins, electronic boarding passes, etc.
SEE WHAT LIES BEYOND
Interested in learning more about travelling responsibly?