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Guide: How we can be responsible travelers

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How do you become more responsible as a traveler? Read more here and get some good advice you can take with you before, during and after the trip.
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Af Anna G. Lohmann

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Responsible traveler: Before, during and after the trip

As a travel-loving woman, I have long been looking for a guide on how to make the most responsible decisions and choices when traveling around the world. It was not that easy to find, so at some point I decided to research it further and make my own guide to just that. So here we are.

Let it be said right away: This is not an attempt to argue that being one responsible traveler is the same as being sustainable, 'eco' or whatever one might associate those words with.

This list is made for us who love to travel and will continue to do so. From here, we must then share our experiences and tips with each other in terms of how we can do it most responsibly. The guide is divided into before, during and after the trip.

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Before the trip: Rent your accommodation to other travelers

Earn some money by renting out your home while traveling. Renting out your home is not only good for your wallet, but it also does something good for the environment. Sharing economy makes it possible for us to make greater use of the resources that we already have available.

I even use Airbnb to rent out my apartment and have only had positive experiences with it.

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Before the trip: Transport

It is no surprise by now that air travel is a major scapegoat because of its CO2 emissions. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider the following if you absolutely must fly:

  • Is it possible to fly direct? If so, it is a better solution, as 25% of aircraft emissions come from take-offs and landings.
  • CO2 compensate! There has been a lot of criticism in this area, as you can not offset the CO2 compensation with how much CO2 you have actually emitted on your flight. The alpha and omega is that it's better than doing nothing. You can read more about CO2 compensation here.
  • The search engine Skyscanner has tried to add an 'Eco' function that you can use to see which flight emits the least CO2. There are differences.

In addition, in order to become more responsible travelers, it is important that we challenge ourselves in relation to modes of transport. For example, there are many benefits to choosing the train instead of flying if we as travelers think about it. 

There are several good sites and not least apps for your phone, which can help you bid on an alternative mode of transport on your route. I use myself Seat 61 og Rome2Rio to examine train tickets.

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Before the trip: The art of choosing a hotel or accommodation

I am a big proponent of using airbnb or Homeaway, as it is often cheaper. As a traveler, I am often with more than one other, and then there is a better opportunity to be able to gather in the living room or kitchen when you are away with family or friends.

If you are inclined to book a hotel, remember to look for certifications so that you are sure that the hotel complies with rules on, among other things, human rights, working conditions and waste management.

Globally, the four largest organizations for sustainable tourism are: Travelife, Green Globe, Earth Check and Green Key. All four of these are green eco-labels so you are good to go, if you choose hotels with one of these certifications.

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Before the trip: Pass it on

It is only recently that I have become acquainted with Pack for a purpose, which in hindsight is completely wrong, as I have traveled in poorer areas throughout my life.

On their website you can look up your destination and see if specific things are missing in the area you need to visit. You definitely have something in the caches at home or in the basement that you do not use for anything and that may be worth much more elsewhere.

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Before the trip: Drinking water

By researching whether you can drink the water where you are going, you have the opportunity to prepare for whether you may need to buy a filtering water bottle such as LifeStraw or Grayl, or whether you just need to have a recyclable water bottle with you to reduce consumption. of plastic.

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During the trip: Good hotel habits

Just as you probably do not wash your towels at home after using them once, you should also not require it when staying at a hotel. It is important to get some good habits when staying in hotel.

As a traveler, you should also consider whether it is necessary to have your clothes washed, as there is often a rule in the hotel that your clothes must not be washed with others, and therefore the washing machine is rarely filled up.

You can fairly easily wash your own clothes in the sink if you have a little detergent with you from home. In addition, it is a good idea to take shampoo bottles, soap, etc. home with you, as they are often just thrown out if there is anything left.

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During the journey - Animals

When it comes to activities involving animals, it is our responsibility to use our common sense.

As a rule of thumb, if the animals are caged inside or chained to something, they are in captivity, and thus it is not an animal-friendly activity. This applies to, for example, dolphin shows, elephant riding, zoos, etc. I would therefore encourage you, as a traveler, to see the animals in their natural surroundings instead, if at all possible.

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During the journey - Garbage

I guess it should eventually be one no brainer, that we should not throw our rubbish where it suits us. It is still on this list because it is still a problem - also in Denmark.

Cigarette butts, to-go cups, plastic bottles, packaging from food, etc. It does not belong in nature, and it is especially disrespectful when you are a guest in another country.

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During the journey - Souvenirs

Buy local souvenirs. This summer I bought a souvenir to take home from Bali, which to my disappointment turned out to have the classic Made in China standing at the bottom. For another time, I will definitely remember to ask where it has been made, so I make sure that the locals get something out of it, and in that way you support the local craft.

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During the journey - Food

It is probably no surprise that it is most sustainable to eat vegetarian or vegan. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, meat eater or something completely different, it is really good to buy food in places where it supports the local community. This could be, for example, shopping in the local markets or choosing a local supermarket instead of an international chain.

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During the journey - Volunteering

Volunteering while traveling and taking time off, you might be thinking? Do not worry. It can only be a single day. There are several organizations that make it easy for us travelers to show what projects we can sign up for and what we can help with.

One organization I have heard well about is Grassroots Volunteering, but there are probably many other good ones like the Danish NGO World Forests or Workaway.

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During the journey - Begging

It may sound harsh, but do not give money to beggars. In some parts of the world, parents take their children out of school to take to the streets to beg. They should preferably learn that this is not how you get money and that children belong in school.

Instead, buy some food or water for them or donate some money to the local NGO.

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During the journey - Respect. Be the good traveler

This point must be one of the most important in this guide. No matter where we travel around the world and what people we meet, we need to show respect. Whether it's about adapting to culture, religion or other norms, of course, we just have to adjust. It also often requires that we get a little familiar with it before we leave.

Sometimes there are small differences in norms and behaviors and other times large ones. That's one of the things that makes the trip special.

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During the journey - Transport

Use public transportation instead of renting a car or ordering a taxi. In several big cities there is also the opportunity to cycle around, which I personally think is a really good way to get around the cities, and it is so nice and natural for us Danes to hop on the bike.

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After the journey - Share, share, share with other travelers

Share your experiences! It must be the most important invitation to take from here. Only by sharing our experiences can we become wiser about how we travel more responsibly.

Share what things worked well for you and what was difficult to adhere to. Share which places actually took waste management seriously, for example, and which ones only wrote that they did. Then we help each other.

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After the journey - Poor areas

Have you been visiting a particularly vulnerable area while traveling? For example, a very poor place or one that has been hit by a natural disaster? Think about if there is anything you can do here from home.

It could possibly be to encourage others to help right there, if they still have to stop by on their trip. It could be supporting an orphanage or a local NGO.

In addition, you can think back on what you have used yours tourist dollars on. Could you have used them more locally? Should you have donated the money you spent on a Hawaiian shirt that is still never appropriate to wear at home in Denmark?

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The most important thing we can do is share our experiences and messages with each other. That way, we can promise each other to become more responsible travelers in real life. To travel is also to become wiser about the world, and it is important to understand how we together take care of the planet's resources.

Of course, these are just the experiences I have gained at a young age, and I am sure we must constantly become wiser and share experiences in order to reach goals.

Here is more 5 tips to travel more environmentally friendly and responsibly.

Good trip!

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About the author

Anna Lohmann

Anna is originally from Birkerød, but has now lived in Vesterbro for a couple of years, where she enjoys the countless cafés and good coffee. Her joy of traveling started already as a child, and still leaves a few times a year when her studies and finances allow. Anna's best travel destinations are Amsterdam, Bali and Vietnam, but hope to one day have the opportunity to experience New Zealand.



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