When you’re preparing for a family holiday, there’s so much to think and worry about that the idea of ethical travelling might seem like a faraway dream. But while the concept of responsible travelling can seem intimidating – how can you be sure you’re doing everything right? – changing a few simple things about the way you travel can go a long way to lessening the impact on the world around you.
Along the way, it’s important to explain to the kids why you’re making the ethical travelling decisions you’re making, educating them on why it’s essential to look after the planet when we travel.
So here are our five simple tips to kick off your ethical holiday. If you want to find out more, take a look at Opodo’s guide to ethical travelling.
Travel to lesser-known destinations
When choosing your destination, consider picking an off-the-beaten-track location. If people travelled to a more diverse range of locations, the negative impact of tourism on popular destinations would be negated. This issue has become so challenging recently, that certain popular places – such as Thailand’s famous Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island – have been shut off to tourists due to environmental impact.
Not asking for room cleaning or towels changing every day
Most hotels will still offer daily room cleaning, which comes with a change of towels, and sometimes a change of sheets. You wouldn’t change your towels or sheets every single day at home, and by opting out of these services you can help to preserve water. So why not wait until your room actually needs cleaning or your towels actually need changing, to request this service. If there’s no official system in place to communicate whether you need your room cleaning, simply sticking a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door when you head out for the day should do the trick.
Avoid animal exploitation
Unfortunately, there are still many countries in the world that are let to make animal exploitation illegal, or that don’t police the laws surrounding animals very tightly. While it can be difficult to explain to the little ones why they can’t ride that elephant or watch the monkey do tricks on the roadside, there are plenty of ethical wildlife experiences to be had if your children are animal-obsessed. Swap elephant riding for visiting ethical elephant sanctuaries, and circuses for touring wildlife reserves. Just make sure you do your research first – it’s often hard to gather which experiences are truly above-board from tourist brochures.
Learn about local cultures
Modifying your behaviour in line with local cultures is a vital part of ethical travelling. Research how to dress and etiquette before you jet off, in order to avoid offending local people in your destination. Ensure the children are informed of the major dos and don’ts and – vitally – explain to them why this is important. For example, in many of its districts, Istanbul can seem very westernised, but it still observes religious practices that mean you may need to alter your behaviour and outfits slightly from what you would do or wear back home.
Use public transport
Plane journeys are notorious for their carbon footprint. Try to offset this just a little by using public transport when out and about in your destination. Not only will you be doing your part for the planet, but getting to know a metro or bus system will save money and help your family get to know your destination better.