It never hurts to take a bit time to think about the impact your adventure will make on the places and people you'll be visiting on your travels.
Before You Leave
- Before you head off on your big adventure make yourself aware of environmental issues, local customs, dress-codes or norms of behaviour. It will allow you to modify your actions as you travel and even perhaps spread the word amongst other travellers.
- Pack light and don't take disposable items – why should other countries have to dispose of your waste?
- Learn a few words of the local lingo. It's a respectful way to show you are more than a package tourist and will go along way to engendering trust and making friends of the people you meet. It can be fun too – never be afraid to try.
- It's good to take a few low-value but engaging items with you to give away as gifts. Things such as photos or postcards of home make great presents and talking points.
As You Travel
- Be aware of illegal or immoral products on sale in markets around the world and don't buy them. Notwithstanding the fact many items will be confiscated if you try and bring them home, your custom could be further endangering wildlife or habitats.
- Water is a hugely precious commodity in many areas of the world. Use it sparingly if it's relevant and if you have to wash in rivers or streams, don't use soap or chemicals that will be washed downstream to the next village or town
- Don't give in to begging kids. It does them no long-term favours. Better to interact with them with photo's or songs.
- Don't pick up shells, stones, plants or other natural items as mementoes. It's illegal to bring many plants home but natural things should stay in their natural environment.
- Don't litter. Obvious really. Some countries struggle to look after their own litter, without having to worry about yours.
- Support the local economy. Tourism can bring relative wealth to many destinations, but the most effective way to ensure the wealth is shared around is by using locally owned transport, accommodation and restaurants.
- When you're taking photo's remember that not everyone is keen to be snapped. Ask politely and respect the answer. In many countries it's wise to avoid taking photo's of key infrastructure like roads or rail or anything remotely military. You could find yourself in a heap of trouble – not the sort of excitement we'd encourage.
Once You're Home
If you want to help, find a good charity to donate to and let them help the people you meet along the way.