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Responsible Travel: Choosing Where To Go

And What To Do Once You Get There

Until recently, travelers rarely thought much about the environmental or social impact of their journeys. In fact, most still view a holiday as a way to escape cause-and-effect logic. After all, trips are made to escape the routine.

That said, your vacation can have positive benefits for you and the people and places you visit. Responsible travel and ecotourism initiatives abound that depend on tourist expenditures to fund conservation and social work.

The Virtuous Circle

Responsible travelers are active participants in an industry-wide learning curve. As travelers, we select operators who show a compassion toward the earth, and other people. A multiplier effect occurs ("the virtuous circle") as responsible travel takes hold.

Successful tourism thrives on word of mouth. The Web provides one of the best means of fact checking and information sharing. If you want to find out specific details about a specific operator or destination, post queries in relevant forums.

Of course one can’t trust everything, but that's true of other media as well. Do some research, and when in doubt ask.

The Information Quest

The Web makes it easier than ever to find eco-friendly, people-friendly places. If you are looking for local guides and recommended operations, our World Travel Directory at www.planeta.com is a great starting point.

If you have an idea of where you would like to go or what you'd like to do, your journey begins with the information quest. Buy a guidebook. Surf the Web. And most importantly, ask friends and family for their suggestions.

The Giving Back

Once you arrive, here are a few things you can do:

  • Contribute to a Local Charity. Ask around and find out which social or environmental efforts can use your time or a financial contribution.
  • Pick up the Trash. Actions speak louder than words. If you are concerned about the environment, show that you care by picking up trash or simply making a point of taking your trash with you.
  • Take Books. Global understanding could vastly be improved if we took (and left) better books on our trips. Find an extra copy of your favorite author and leave it behind where it can be appreciated. If you have academic leanings, find out if the local libraries can use more technical materials and take them something they can use.
  • Buy Crafts. Buying from a local artisan can cut out 40 steps in the traditional export chain. If you are looking for a gift or a souvenir, you can patronize the arts and demonstrate your support for local culture.