“As a responsible traveler and professional travel blogger, I want these treasures of India last as long as possible.” says travel blogger Shubham Mansignka.
Shubham further ruminates that how the addition of a single road changes the lifestyle that had been established since centuries, and while it brings money along with a lot of tourists the locals almost always lose their culture. This now prompts him to travel sometimes without revealing the name of the place to his thousands of followers.
Today, when travel has been glamorized beyond limits, it has become a challenge for the natives of a place as well to keep up with the influx of tourists. As a result, it is up to the visitor to share their burden, or to put it bluntly, to behave like a nice guest and leave.
Also, as observed on the blog specializing in the Indian Himalayan region, Devil on Wheels, Ladakh is probably one of the top negative examples of what widespread publicity can do to a place. Most of the times they urge travelers to read about their responsible travel initiatives only to find that just handful of people land up on those pages. There is a simple request – to stop killing the planet every time you go on a vacation.
HOW TO TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY
While social media has played a colossal role in promoting tourism throughout, and being a travel blogger seems to be a newfangled career of choice for many, only a few realize the kind of duties it calls for. Having thousands look upto you is not just about showing them pretty mountains and sand, but also about creating awareness en route.
Having said that, for everyone it all starts with deciding where to go, what activities to do and which tours to choose from. Let’s understand 7 easy ways to travel responsibly and become an environmentally conscious traveler –
- Avoiding over crowded/over touristy places. Places like Goa, Himachal, and a lot many are on the brink of a breakdown due to over commercial activities. If the floods in Kedarnath and Zanskar river or the water shortage in Shimla isn’t proof enough for how nature loses its balance while keeping up with increasing demands, then there’s no denying the fact that Indians can be ignorant travelers. There are so many destinations and just because one place gains popularity due to some reason, it shouldn’t become everyone’s priority. A person truly harboring the spirit to explore would not go crazy over seeing what everyone is seeing.
- Reduce plastic waste. Period. We have the population we have and can’t get away with it, but if only each one of us became more aware of our own trash we would be reducing a mammoth source of pollution in India. Recycling and segregating wastes needs education and awareness at an earlier level (many developed countries make it mandatory for people to segregate waste so that less of it goes blindly in landfill), so without expecting much, carrying personal water bottles and refilling and not dumping food wrappers just anywhere are two very easy things with big payoffs that we can start with. Having a water filter straw is a great way to ensure less waste and much safer and potable water for you too. (Related: 10 Best Multipurpose Travel Accessories)
- Avoid animal tourism. Petting tigers or riding elephant have all come in limelight due to the cruelty and intoxication bestowed upon animals to make them behave a certain way. Say no to a silly horse ride at a hill station just for the sake of it. We all know that in its natural form, no animal will let you sit on top of it and wait for you to take that photo.
- Support local economy. And, eating at Pizza Hut in a village doesn’t count.
- Don’t indulge in wasteful luxury. Nobody needs a new soap bar, shampoo, conditioners, etc. everyday. Hotels try to please their guests with indulgence but at least we can be sensible about it.
- Volunteer. Volunteer with local organizations working for a cause and also to get a chance to stay with the locals. Thanks to so many platforms these days it could be an incredibly easy and rewarding experience were everyone benefits. Those who search can find plenty of such resources, but some of the famous ones are –
- Lastly, while you go out don’t forget what you are leaving behind. ‘Phantom load’ is the continuous power drawn by appliances when they are connected to a supply even when you would they are switched off. This bleeding of power can sometimes be as much as 20% of the regular electricity bills depending on the type devices in a house. Make sure to disconnect all plugs before leaving and avoid power wastage.
The idea is not to make ‘Responsible Travel’ sound like a task, but to make people aware of the fact that the world is changing and so should our habits. Indians are infamous for being inelegant travelers and this needs to change for saving our own country. We urge you to explore and see all the different ways in which people live across the globe. But, we also urge you to act more mature and think about the place you’re visiting. Many tourist places are environmentally sensitive areas, and if you’re being offered the luxury of the amenities you receive back home, it’s usually at the expense of interrupting the natural balance of the region; because the locals don’t live like the way you live in cities. Just because the money coming along with you is helping them develop, don’t be reckless about their surroundings.
The Blue Yonder, Spiti Ecosphere, Tsermang, Responsible Tourism India are few examples of companies taking initiatives in creating better immersive itineraries than the ones being mass offered. It’s time to change our habits, bit by bit.