How to Travel Responsibly

05 Oct 2016

Responsible travel is about making a positive impact on your holiday destination; in essence giving back some of what you take. But why bother? Here's why: while enjoying lazy days by the pool and eating and drinking everything in sight is all well and good, it doesn’t usually do much for the community. In fact, you’re probably having a detrimental impact which means that, in a few generations time, the very same community you fall in love with may not exist for your children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren to enjoy. Travelling responsibly – if only for a few days – will help preserve the destination you’re visiting and ultimately give you a great sense of wellbeing.

Here’s how you can start to make a difference:

Reuse towels and sheets

Do you wash your towels and sheets daily at home? If the answer is no, then you’ll quickly understand why we’re saying you don’t need to do it on holiday either. You’ll save water and energy and we can guarantee you'll still feel clean if you opt to use the same linens for a week. To put it into perspective, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas saved around 30 million gallons of water in a year when it started pushing its more efficient laundry tactics.

Give back to the community

Research what issues the area you’re visiting faces – such as poverty or water scarcity. Armed with this information, you can look at ways in which you can help local communities, like volunteering at a village school or visiting locally-run attractions. You can visit hill tribes in Thailand’s Chiang Mai, enrol on an educational volunteer programme in Africa, or help rehabilitate turtles in Costa Rica, to name a few.

A young member of a hill tribe in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Stay local

In places like Cuba, it’s possible to book a homestay, where you’ll spend your trip with a local family, eating fresh meals and learning about their way of life. This allows the money that you would usually spend on a huge corporate hotel chain to go directly to the local people instead.

Check your carbon footprint

Fly with airlines that offset your carbon emissions or incorporate biofuels. A lot of carriers, like our gold-preferred partner British Airways, have strict targets when it comes to cutting emissions drastically. In fact, BA’s target is to see a 50% cut in net emissions by 2050! Likewise, Virgin Atlantic invests in projects that reduce carbon emissions in developing countries – from wind power to forest protection schemes.

British Airways has great sustainability objectives

Be mindful of local etiquette

Dress appropriately; only take photos when you’re allowed. No matter where you go, it’s crucial to be aware of any cultural differences, so you don’t offend the locals – don’t forget you’re a visitor in their country.

Give feedback on our sustainability

Being sustainable is an ongoing battle, so any tips on how we can improve our sustainability would be gratefully received. Flight Centre UK joined ABTA’s Travelife sustainability programme earlier this year in a bid to improve its social, economic and environmental impact. The programme allows our hotels and accommodation providers to audit their sustainability practices to a rating of bronze, silver and gold.

Our Travel Experts know all there is to know about planning a sustainable trip – make an appointment to meet one of them face-to-face in-store and start travelling responsibly.

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Alexandra Gregg

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. Follow me @wonderg1rl89.