How to Travel Responsibly? Tips by Gaia Discovery Readers

Tips, hints and ideas for travelling responsibly when you next go on a holiday. Here are numerous tips from Gaia Discovery readers who participated in a contest.


 SINGAPORE, 1 December 2017. Gaia Discovery readers shared tips on responsible travel in a social media contest that Gaia Discovery ran from 1-12 November 2017 where two winners stood a chance to win a two-night stay at LooLa Adventure Resort in Bintan. They had to respond to this question in less than 100 words: What are some responsible ways of travelling?

Helping to select the two winners was Deborah Chan, an associate of WildAsia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative and an organiser of WildAsia Responsible Tourism Awards for many years.

 The winners are Natalie Wee and Chan Yen Sen. Here are their winning entries:

 By Natalie Ann Wee: Travelling responsibly is as easy as the following:
1. Be environmentally conscious by reusing towels, bringing tote bags for shopping, using a refillable bottle and handkerchief and if you’re really hardworking, bringing a container when eating at street stalls.
2. Reduce your carbon footprint by going plant based and cycling or walking instead of driving.
3. Not supporting animal tourism unless it is definitely cruelty free.
4. Supporting local establishments and patronising fair trade restaurants.
5. The most important thing is also to spread the word and encourage your friends to join you on your journey towards responsible tourism!

 Bin your trash or take back your rubbish so as not to harm wildlife

Bin your trash or take back your rubbish so as not to harm wildlife

By Chan Yen Sen: Travelling responsibly can mean something as simple as using resources responsibly at the destination, be it a hotel or a camp site, which means do shower instead of bath, switch off lights, TV and air conditioning when you leave (and stop using tricks to keep them switched on), do not take excessive food (even if it’s a buffet), do not consume water bottle in the room (even its free) unless no other potable water source is available, no littering and bin your waste, do not send the towels for washing unless it’s soiled, do not bring home all the disposal toiletries just because they are free. How about give something instead to the local community, for a change? 

“It's exciting to see the rise of informed and conscious travellers hitting the road. Hopefully, this generation will inspire the coming generations to become responsible stewards of this beautiful shared planet,” said Deborah Chan.

“Being a responsible traveller is not a label or a boring checklist to tick off, rather, it is an attitude and a state of consciousness we have about the decisions we make while travelling and not compromising on the thrill of travel,” she added.

 Here are the rest of the replies.

 Khoo Wei Ting Adelyn

 Travel responsibly by being an eco-traveller! 
1.  Carry light, soft, expandable luggage, pack only what you need and buy local clothes. Bring biodegradable washing powder to wash clothes. Helps to lower carbon footprint.

2. Visit and support local cooperatives and help them to preserve local culture instead of supporting business bigwigs. 
3. Learn the local language! Extremely helpful in warming up the conversation and the locals appreciate if you go the extra mile! Staying in homestays also helps to build cultural understanding both ways!

Sarah J

1. I bring my own water bottle and refill it instead of buying new bottles. 
2. I always turn off the lights and aircon when I leave the hotel and nag at my friends to do so too. 
3. I choose places and activities that support local communities and avoid those that are damaging to the environment.
So.. Let me go to Bintan!!!! 

Sofia Liviia

Eat plant based since it is not only more ethical but animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. 
Support businesses like shops or hotels that do good to the environment and the locals. Be aware if the people working at those places do so under good work conditions. Don’t take tourist pictures with wild sedated or caged animals since they usually have been taken from their habitats and families and do not lead happy lives. Instead you can visit animal sanctuaries.

Frederic Norman

All of us can become responsible travellers by:
1. Planning our trip well so as to minimise commute, thus reducing carbon footprint. As much as possible, take mass transport, hire a bike or walk when convenient.
2. Asking the tour operator if there are local sustainable projects that you can participate. 
3. Preferring to stay in establishments with eco-sustainable practices
4. Minimising waste by bringing reusable materials
5. Buying local produce and goods
6. Being respectful of local traditions
As the world becomes smaller through easier access, may we become more responsible of the only place we call home—Earth.

Jang Lagua-Oplado

As travellers we have to be conscious to create positive impact in places we visit while enjoying.

Support the LOCAL PEOPLE & culture. Interact with them. Hire local guide, buy local produce and souvenirs.

Be ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY. Travel light, minimize carbon footprint. Take public transport. Do not litter. Recycle, use water bottles. Support eco-friendly establishments. Re-use towels & change sheets only when needed. Turn electricity off when not in the room.

Never support ANIMAL exploitation, no matter how tempting it is to see exotic animals.

As we spend money, may it go to good causes. Micro efforts can have macro effects.

 Shem Berman

Be respectful. As travellers, we are guests to locals' homes. The town, the city, the country is their home and we should be mindful of their culture and their tradition. While people and their customs may seem exotic and strange for us, we need to remember that they are not objects.

Keep an open mind. People have feelings, and customs have been practiced for years, decades, even centuries. There are reasons for their traditions. Be open and you may learn new things.

Lim Xiu Hui

Pack light since every kilo counts when flying. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Pack only what you need for your trip.

2. Act in a hotel like you would at home - avoid getting clean towels when not necessary, don't have long showers and something frequently forgotten is to turn off TV, lights and aircon when we leave the room.

3. Do not use plastic bottles. Use re-useable bottles to fill your drinking water instead. 

Alan Thian

Always fly economy class, travel around by public transportation, walk or ride a bike to avoid carbon emissions. Buy local and eat local (avoiding beef and dairy products). Use standing shower instead of bathtub. Carry recycle bags, cutleries, a handkerchief, a drinking bottle for refilling when one's outside. 

Esha Batish

I think the single most responsible thing travellers can do is to cut down on the use of plastic and packaging when we travel. Here are some alternatives to the usual plastic fare:
1. Bring your own water bottle and fill it up at your hotel before leaving for the day to tour. Use the hotel's potable water source or get one large bottle to keep refilling. You can also fill the bottle with cold tea or other beverages from eateries you visit. 
2. Bring your own and refuse plastic bags.
3. Bring your own utensils and refuse plastic ones.
4. Bring your own containers if you know you'll be getting takeaway food.

Easy peasy!

Jai Chapman

When travelling try to share transport wherever possible to reduce impact of carbon footprint.
Also eat sustainable food which has less impact on environment like less beef and animal products.
Eat local food grown in the country you are visiting. This will help cut down on products air-flown in.
Use standing showers to save on water consumption instead of bath; sheets and towels do not have to be changed daily. Enjoy and safe travels!                                             

Anusha Deborah

1. Choose an eco-friendly hotel 2. Support local souvenir shops, eat where the locals go and try a new dish 3. Read up on local culture and laws 4. Say no to plastic bags, use your own bag. 5. Avoid takeaway containers where you can. 6. Reuse your plastic water bottle. 7. Don’t give to beggars 8. Use public transport

Jenni Ho

The first and foremost thing to do to travel responsibly is to go somewhere near you and ensure that where you plan to stay has in place practices that contribute to sustainability! For me that usually means living with friends... unless I win a getaway at a cool resort like... Loola! That will be SO SWEET!

Inez Alsagoff

Travelling responsibly is much easier than one might think! Just think of yourself as a curious and respectful traveller, and not a tourist. Respecting the local culture and not exploiting the country’s resources is what makes the trip worthwhile. Simple steps, that you should be doing daily too, such as turn off the air conditioner, lights and taps when not in use, and don’t overuse these resources, do not contribute to food waste, bring your own reusable water and don’t drink from plastic bottles, do not litter and deny any plastic products (like free toiletries or water bottles).

Shenna Mae Tan

Travelling responsibly can be easily accomplished with three rules:

1. Reduce Waste
Bring your own bottles and reusable containers to avoid creating non-decomposable waste.

2. Reduce Carbon Footprint
Taking public or alternative means of transport also allows you to see the country from a local’s angle.

3. Support Eco-Living
Stay at eco-friendly establishments that practice energy and water saving methods. Not only are you actively helping the environment, it also encourages other establishments to go green!

Xiao Bawang

Walk, cycle or use public transport whenever travelling or not - if you must drive make your next car a green one. Until fuel cell vehicles hit the market, dual fuel hybrids (electricity and petrol) are the answer.

K S Tan

Say no to plastic bags from shops and instead put your items in a backpack or a cloth bag. Eat and drink in the cafe rather than going for take away. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill up from large water jugs that can be found in most hotels and restaurants.

Sherr Yun

Keep your rubbish out of sight! Don’t dump your rubbish anywhere but in your bag if you can’t find a correct place to throw!

That’s it folks! Gaia Discovery thanks everyone for their participation and their useful tips. Thanks to LooLa Adventure Resort for sponsoring the prize as well. We hope to hear from you again in the next round of contest! And thank you Deborah Chan for being a judge of this contest.

Contest Selection Procedure:

Nb. Names of participants were removed from the entries that were submitted for judging.