Most people when they go on holiday have no intention of causing any damage to the environment or disrupting the local culture. Unfortunately it’s very easily done unknowingly, whether by purchasing souvenirs made from endangered species, or dressing inappropriately in a conservative country.

Also, while many of us feel an understandable urge to discover pristine, remote destinations that are as yet untouched by mass tourism, the communities in those places are often poor and ill-equipped to deal with an influx of visitors. Being aware of the risks posed can help to minimise the impact we make.

The Tinggly team is a community of world travellers. We love seeking out new places and experiences, and bringing them to the attention of others. But we are also deeply committed to low-impact travel that positively affects the destination, and also allows for more engaged and authentic travel. Here’s our guide to how you can give back when you go away.

Before Travelling

When you’re booking a holiday through a travel company as opposed to self-organising, check if they have a Responsible Travel policy, or a Sustainability Policy, that you can read. Gentle nudges from their customers in this direction are the best way to persuade companies that don’t yet have a policy to create one and abide by it.

Pick up a guidebook, or do a bit of research online, before you go, just to learn a little about the place you’re going to visit. Even picking up just a few words or phrases of the local lingo shows respect and open-mindedness.

When you’re packing your suitcase, try to source environmentally friendly products to take with you, especially suncream. Sadly, some of the planet’s most precious underwater landscapes such as the Great Barrier Reef are in danger, in part due to the amount of chemicals in the sea.

If you’re flying somewhere, you can offset some or all of your carbon emissions through a variety of schemes. Our own Tinggly Sustainability Policy ensures that the money you pay to offset goes to a project which benefits some of the world’s poorest communities and promotes sustainable development. Consider it next time you purchase one of our experiences!

While you’re away

Spend your money wisely so that it benefits the local economy. If you’re staying with a global hotel chain and eating at big-brand restaurants every day, then the chances are that the profits being made are being sent abroad to wherever the parent company is based and not contributing very much to the economy of the place you’re visiting. Staying and eating at independent or locally-owned establishments can often be less expensive and provide a more authentic experience.

Travel overland by public transport wherever possible. Going by bus or train not only reduces pollution and congestion on the roads, but it’s also a great way to engage with local people. Who knows, the most memorable moment of a holiday might not turn out to be finding a paradise beach or a great meal, but having a funny conversation with someone on a bus.

Seek out experiences that are authentic and involve local guides. We recommend small group tours and cookery classes in particular, where you can get an insight into communities and ways of life that often go unnoticed in more organised excursions.

Remember that not every country has the ability to responsibly dispose of waste as your own. To that end, try to reduce the packaging of anything you take on holiday and try not to buy anything while there that has excess packaging, in case it can’t be easily recycled. Plastic bags are a major problems in some island nations as they can often find their way into the ocean where they prevent a hazard to marine life. Bring along a reusable water bottle that you can refill every morning in your hotel and at restaurants, rather than having to buy numerous plastic bottles.

When you get back

If while you’re away you’ve noticed tourism practises that seem irresponsible or unethical, try to raise awareness with the provider by politely contacting them directly. You can also engage with other travellers on web forums to ensure they’re aware of the problem.

Conversely, if you encounter any fantastic initiatives such as hotels introducing eco-friendly policies, or unique guided tours with engaging guides, be sure to let the provider know your appreciation.