When travel’s done the right way, it can bring benefits to the places you visit. Below, our specialists share their suggestions for ensuring your trip is not only rewarding, but has a positive effect on the local communities, wildlife, and environment in your destination. You can also read our blog on how to travel more sustainably.
Interacting with local communities
- Respecting the culture: we find that observing local cultural sensitivities not only helps to avoid accidentally causing offence, but also opens more opportunities for you to engage with local people. Your specialist will help guide you on the cultures and traditions in the destination you’re visiting.
- Learning the language: learning a few words in the local language is usually greatly appreciated, and can often lead to a more authentic experience.
- Interacting with children: we advise against visiting schools or orphanages when children are present. If you have a particular interest in visiting a school, only do so when classes aren’t in session.
- Photography: always ask permission to take a person’s photograph — this can also be a good opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with. Don’t take photographs of children without consent from their parent or guardian. Also be aware that flash photography can be damaging to artwork.
- Choose local businesses: to help create local jobs, we recommend eating and shopping as locally as possible during your travels, choosing community-run and locally owned businesses. Your specialist can let you know of any community initiatives you could support in the areas you visit, such as women’s co-operatives that produce handmade crafts you can buy as souvenirs.
- Bartering: different cultures have varied attitudes to tipping and bartering — your specialist can provide you with country-specific details, or you can ask your local guide for advice. Take a light-hearted approach when bargaining, and remember that small amounts can often mean a lot the vendor.
- Giving back: if you’d like to make a donation to the country you’ve visited, you can do so through our Audley Travel for Good Fund, which supports a variety of social and environmental charities around the world.
Protecting the environment
- Preserving nature: when visiting national parks and nature reserves, stick to set paths (unless instructed otherwise by your guide) and keep noise to a minimum to avoid disturbing wildlife. Your specialist will share destination-specific recommendations like rinsing your hiking boots to avoid the transfer of invasive species, leaving all plants and creatures as you found them in the wild, or taking care not to stomp on centuries-old moss.
- Souvenirs to avoid: to ensure you’re not purchasing products made from endangered animals and plants, you can find a list of examples of banned souvenirs in the CITES treaty and the IUCN ‘Red List’.
- Carbon reduction: one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is choosing to get around by train instead of an internal flight, or opting for a walking or cycling tour rather than exploring by vehicle. We also encourage you to carbon offset your flights, which your specialist can arrange. We work with Climate Impact Partners, which invests in initiatives that not only lower carbon emissions, but also help improve lives.
- Animal encounters: we use local guides who adhere to strict animal welfare guidelines. When on your own, keep a respectful distance from any wildlife you encounter and don’t feed any wild animals as this can alter their natural feeding habits. We recommend avoiding petting zoos, animals in confinement (unless for conservation and rehabilitation reasons), or animals that perform tricks. Should you encounter any examples of poor animal welfare on any experiences we offer during your trip, please let us know and we’ll investigate.
- Supporting wildlife: there may be wildlife sanctuaries and conservation projects you can support in the destination you’re visiting. Either speak directly to your guide or hotel workers while you’re there or follow up when you arrive home — our specialists may be able to assist.
- Use reef-friendly sunscreen: some sunscreen can be damaging to coral reefs and marine ecosystems. We recommend doing some research before purchasing your sunscreen or looking for products with the Protect Land + Sea Certification.
- Selecting your stays: we hand-pick places to stay that not only follow standard sustainable practices, but often go above and beyond in their efforts to give back to the environment and the local community. For example, they might have policies in place to protect and regenerate the land and native species, employ people from the surrounding area, or designate a portion of their proceeds toward supporting the local community, environment, and/or wildlife. You can read about some of our stays that support their local wildlife on our blog.
- Keep your waste to a minimum: recycle what you can, and sensibly dispose of any extra packaging you may have before you travel. Bring items such as batteries home with you if they can’t be recycled locally.
- Reduce your plastic:
- Bring a reusable water bottle to refill throughout your trip.
- When ordering a drink, ask for it without the straw.
- Try using travel soap and shampoo bars to help reduce your plastic waste.
- Reduce your resource use: reuse your sheets and towels as much as possible, remember to turn off lights and electrical equipment in your room if you’re not using them, and turn off air-conditioning units when they’re not needed. You should also be mindful of what you eat — buffets are very common in certain regions of the world, but can result in a lot of food waste, so make sure to only take as much as you’re likely to eat. Where possible, choose dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. These often tend to be local delicacies, which could also enrich your cultural understanding and sense of place. Choosing a plant-based meal can also help reduce your carbon footprint.
- Avoid peak-season travel: many destinations see a massive spike in visitors during certain months, for example when the weather is warmer and drier or when there’s a specific seasonal reason for visiting, putting a strain on resources. By visiting at alternative times of year, you’ll experience fewer crowds and shorter waiting times, as well as having a wider choice of places to stay. It also helps to provide jobs for local people year round rather than them having to rely on making enough money in a few months to last for the rest of the year.