Travel is about discovering new places and meeting new people. In my first blog on GreenGirls I will give some advises on how to be a good and green tourist.
Before you leave home; read about the country you are going to visit. Ask questions, search the internet and visit bookshops. It is useful to learn a few words of the local language and their customs when greeting and meeting new people.
Gambia: Berefet Cultural Camp
Meeting with the local people; remember you are a guest in others peoples home. Be open-minded and respect the local way of living. Learn and experience. Be extra careful when visiting holy places like churches, temples or sacred grounds. Be aware of how they dress according to local customs. Always show respect for elderly people regardless status and work. It is also important to show respect for beggars and think twice before you give anything to children which may encourage the children to continue begging. Be careful regarding smoking and drinking alcohol. In some places smoking and alcohol is not yet common, other areas they have strict rules about smoking and drinking while in some communities alcohol is major social problem.
Responsible photographing; includes asking before taking pictures of people and do not interrupt if the situation does not allow. Act polite, not provoke, and also remember that in some places it is not allowed to take pictures of holy places.
Nepal, Chitwan: Local Handicraft Making
Be careful with water and energy usage; shortages are common in many places. You can help saving by not let the tap water run while brushing teeth, shower instead of filling the bathtub and not to use more towels than necessary. Turn off lamps and other electrical equipment when they are not in use.
A part of travelling is experiencing new food; try local dishes in the restaurants. Try not to eat all the meals in one place – but spread your spending money and at the same time increase the experience by trying different restaurants.
Use local excursions that contribute in the community; choose environmentally friendly excursions even if it costs a bit more money. Use local transportation and guides when possible and again ask questions.
India, Kerala: Exploring Local Culture
Shopping contributes to local economic growth; be conscious about what you buy and not buy products made of endangered species or plants. Cultural heritage is not a souvenir therefore do not purchase such items or take "trophies" from local places. Bargaining is culture in many places, but not let it become a sport! Pay a fair price. Buy local produced goods and services and take an interest in where the items are being produced.
When travel outdoors; be careful in the natural surroundings. Leave wildflowers and plants alone and enjoy them in their natural environment. Respect wild animals and keep distance, don't feed them or cause unnecessary noise. Do not litter outdoors or in the street. If there is no bin – take the trash back home.
Linda Veråsdal, Founder
Ethical Travel Portal, http://www.ethicaltravelportal.com/