There is no sophisticated code of conduct for sustainable travel. Much depends on the context, but anyway, respect for people and nature first. 17 tips from the department of Foreign Affairs to help you get started.
Also read our tips for green travel
1. Respect the local norms and values, and inform you in advance: dress, greetings, physical contact, eating habits, contact between persons of the opposite sex or of a different status, visit of religious places… Take your time to discover culture and meet people.
2. Shooting you won’t be doing. First establish contact with the people you want to photograph and ask for permission. Negotiate a reasonable price if people ask money. To children give, you better have no money (see 4). Also, photography of some of the locations and objects within specific cultures and religions is offensive and unwanted.
3. Do not fall unannounced in a village or an indigenous people. First, create clear agreements, possibly with the chief of the village: about fee, campsite, what you should visit. Please respect their culture.
4. Take extra care with children. Sex with minors against payment (money, goods, other promises) – where in the world – is punishable in Belgium. Also in the destination itself, it can usually be prosecuted lead. Prefer not to specify money to (street)children, even if they ask money for a service, such as a picture of them. If they earn, keep the parents maybe away from school. Or they will buy alcohol, glue, or other drugs. You can also something useful to a school, donate, preferably purchased at a local market.
5. Travel slowly and neutralise the carbon footprint of your relocation. Support for this specialised organisations such as CO2logic.be, Greenseat.nl, Atmosfair.de or Treesforall.nl. These organisations will calculate the amount you must pay for your emissions to compensate and invest your money in sustainable energy and reforestation. Use your travel preferably public transport. When you go for a rental car, consider a hybrid or electric variant. A holiday close to home still remains greener and cheaper.
6. Plan your trip thoroughly. When you go to a far country, you will do that better for a long period of time. Looking for an accommodation with environmental initiatives such as solar energy. Plot your route clearly so that no unnecessary detours when you are using the car. You go in on a package with sustainability labels, inform yourself thoroughly what that means. Recycle your travel brochures: give them to family or friends.
7. Do not consume unnecessary energy. Make sure that you are at home all electronic devices are switched off before you leave. Also on location get your unused electronic devices better from the wall outlet.
8. Leave the nature intact behind. Take your waste and prevent pollution of public water. Use biodegradable soap. Leave animals and plants alone and do not unnecessarily off the tracks. Be cautious with the burning of fire, and use only zwerfhout or dead branches. Cook preferably in gas or sustainably manufactured charcoal.
9. Looking for an alternative to plastic. In some hotels or shops, you can ‘los’ drinking water. You fill out just your (field)bottle or jerry can. If you have any doubts, you can purify water. Use you plastic bottles, put them in the trash, or pour them away. For many people plastic bottles useful. Take a reusable bag with me from home, so that you don’t each time a plastic bag to take with you shopping.
10. Be economical with water, even on vacation. So you can better use a cup to brush your teeth and a quick shower. Let your sheets not replaced each day and use towels multiple times.
11. Eat as much as possible, locally produced food. That is good for the environment and the local economy. In addition, you will discover the local specialties. But hat you for illegal “woudvlees’ (poaching).
12. Don’t bring illegal souvenirs: endangered animal or plant species, or cultural heritage such as fossils, arrowheads, coral, and pottery chards.
13. Make use of local amenities. Avoid an all-inclusivevakantie or international hotel chains, sleep prefer to stay in smaller family run hotels. You can also look for ‘Community based tourism’: tourism, where the local population is closely involved. Very nice by the direct contact with the locals. Check whether there is sufficient income for them to arrive. Or maybe you can agritourism a try? In all continents, you can have a taste of the day-to-day life on a farm.
14. Let local people to work for you. Beknibbel not small expenditure. Feel free to take a tuk-tuk or rickshaw, you leave your suitcase or backpack carry, and pay for it. Or call a local guide.
15. Give a tip. For many families the job in the tourism industry for all that they have, the wages are low and the work seasonal. An extra tip to the chambermaid or the liftjongen can’t hurt. Inform yourself about what a reasonable tip is.
16. Give only to beggars as the locals do. In islam is almsgiving one of the five pillars, also in India, it is normal for beggars to help. Only you will so to to the culture. Give prefer more of a little than one time a extravagant amount.
Also read: Should you give money to begging children?
17. Buy souvenirs. And if at all possible, buy them from the makers themselves. Be sure, however, that, for example, the necklace is not illegal coral or ivory is made of. And that there is no ‘made in China’ sticker on sticks. Of course you should bargain, in many countries, is it a part of the culture. But don’t go to the extreme. The seller has a price in his head.
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