Many of us who value having a positive impact on the destinations we visit while traveling will likely agree: we hold a concern for sustainability just as close to our heart as our love for adventure! Protecting the environment, respecting others’ cultures, and contributing to the local economy is important while traveling, and are values of ours here at Global Basecamps. We want to help empower our clients take on these priorities as well, so check out these tips on how to travel more sustainably!
Protect the Environment
Doing our best to take care of the environment is a daily responsibility, wherever we are. When traveling, you are in another culture’s precious ecosystems that will benefit through your efforts.
- Follow your guide’s direction at all times. Ecotourism guides on tours we curate are experts in their fields, and founts of knowledge about local flora, fauna and natural history! Their leadership will keep you, and the surrounding ecology, safe and flourishing as you explore and learn.
- Buying rustic, wooden souvenirs is tempting, but spend some time doing your research regarding which woods are most threatened versus most abundant. Talk to your guide about which are the best choice regarding sustainability, as deforestation is a major issue and driven by demand. (See what we’ve supported in Peru to combat deforestation with our partner ECOAN!). It’s definitely best to steer clear of buying souvenirs made from threatened woods or wild animal parts, as overharvesting and poaching are a major threat to wildlife.
- If you must drink water from plastic bottles (still an unfortunate reality in countries where most water is unsafe to drink), follow the strictest local protocols on how to deal with plastic waste! Global Basecamps is passionate about this topic, and proudly supports Travelers Against Plastic.
- Just like at home, eating less meat and trying to eat locally sourced produce are a great way to lessen the ecological footprint of your food, while also supporting local farmers.
Respect Others’ Culture
As guests in another culture, respect is key. Tourism can have a negative affect on local cultures, or it can serve to support it, so traveling with cultural sensitivity is a better experience for all!
- Study up beforehand on local norms (speech and addressing strangers depending on age, gender, etc; proper dress, especially for special occasions and in holy sites; eating protocols) so you don’t show up primed to offend your host culture! Your guide will help you with this, but do your part as well.
- Learn some basic greetings in the local language; this will open up doors for relationship building that otherwise remain shut.
- Keep an eye out for opportunities to contribute to local initiatives that serve more vulnerable members of society, especially women, girls, orphans or other vulnerable children. Global Basecamps supports primary schools, clean water projects, and other programs that serve the communities we visit through our Global Initiatives.
Contribute to the Local Economy
The great news about sustainable tourism (learn more from the UN World Tourism Organization here) is, when it comes to the kind of local operators we partner with, that your travel directly supports community economic development. In remote areas where opportunities can be few, these operators can offer a chance for a better future. Our trips contribute to businesses that employ local people and support the kind of livelihoods that not only offer authentic experiences to travelers, but build resilient communities that are settings where regional cultures can thrive. Traveling with the right operator makes a difference, and we are glad to provide that opportunity for our clients and for local people!
Oftentimes, when travelers observe needs in the communities they are visiting, there is an urge to help. Poverty is a reality in much of the Global South, and the desire to give directly to people you meet who ask for financial help can be strong! The better option is to talk to a guide or trustworthy local contact about how an organization working in microfinance, education or other field can steward a donation you’d like to make - this is almost always a better option than giving directly. Global Basecamps has both given as an organization and helped advise giving by our clients in the past.
Sustainability is a complex and growing idea that is expanding in awareness and action across continents and cultures, and travel is one of the most educational ways to engage in the conversation. Global Basecamps is honored to be part of an industry that is leading the way in sustainable travel, empowering our clients and partners in making a difference!