How to be a responsible traveller?
Travel is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Exploring new countries, learning about different cultures and living new adventures is something that can change your perspective on life forever.
Being a responsible traveller is easy. It does not require much effort and it can make your experience much more authentic and real.
Responsible tourism is all about leaving a positive impact on not only the environment, but also the people who live in the places you choose to visit.
The following actions are based on the World Tourism Organisation’s guideline to become a responsible traveller. Myanmar Voyages encourages all travellers to be responsible before, during and after their journey. Thus, we would like to share a few tips with you!
Before you book your holidays:
- Search and read the company’s policy for responsible tourism. You can read ours here.
- Plan your trip to minimise carbon emissions. We know that most international trips will require flights, which is not the most the most environmentally option. However, once you reach the destination, try to ask for alternative options such as bus or train to minimise internal flights. If there is no other way but flying, then book direct flights. Also, some airlines may offer option to offset your share of carbon emissions for a small extra cost, which goes direct to carbon offset projects.
Before you travel:
- Understand the local culture. Try to learn a few simple phrases such as good morning, please, thank you and use them as much as you can. You will be amazed by how far you can go and be appreciated by locals. Also, do not forget to learn as much as possible about your destination and take the time to understand the customs, norms and traditions. Avoid behavior that could offend the locals. We highly encourage to read the “Dos and Don’ts for Tourists”, an excellent collection of advice for all those who are planning to visit Myanmar.
- Remove all excess packaging. Be aware that in many places in Myanmar, recycling or waste disposal is limited and complicated. So, leave packaging at home and consider buying something when you are at the destination, this will also support the local economy.
- Ask about a local conservation or social project. You can get involved with these projects while you are travelling. But please note that we do not support or involve in visits to orphanages, since they have a negative impact on the children.
During the holidays:
- Hire a local guide. When doing so, you will get to experience the destination with someone who knows what is like to live there, the culture and everything that destination is all about. It is also an excellent way to support the local economy.
- Be a conscious shopper. Avoid products that are made from endangered species. Try to buy locally-made and traditional handicrafts as it is a good way of providing both economic and cultural support for small communities. If you are bargaining, please do not get carried away or pushy, which might offend the locals. The goal is to find a fair price for both-ends, not the lowest possible.
- Respect people and cultures. This may sound obvious, but we need to be reminded because not every culture is the same. You may think that it is okay to take endless photos without asking, or being unnecessarily noisy, or dress a certain way, but it is important to keep in mind that you are in a different place and there are codes you need to respect. For example, taking your shoes off during the visits to pagodas and temples. Think how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. If you are not sure, ask our travel consultants and they will give you advice about what is appropriate and what is not depending on your destination.
- Use local transport. It is a great way to meet local people on their own terms and of course reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
After the holidays:
- Write comments and feedback about your holiday to your travel company, hotels, restaurants or tourist board. Suggestions about reducing environmental impact and increasing benefits to local communities are always welcome. For any serious issues regarding human rights abuse or wildlife exploitation, you may want to contact relevant charities or organisations.
- If you promised to send photos or gifts to local people, remember to do so.
- Enjoy your memories, reflect on your experience and, of course, start planning your next trip keeping in mind all the points above!
Myanmar Voyages is committed to building a more sustainable future and become a responsible player in the tourism industry. If you wish to know more about the community development activities in which we are engaged, feel free to ask us!