Making Ethical Choices and Being a Responsible, Sustainable Traveler
In this blog, we have gathered some tips that will outline how you can travel more responsibly. Sustainability is at the very core of what we do, so we have compiled some useful suggestions and guidance on how you can travel more sustainably (learn more about Our Sustainability Promise).
Please read the following guidelines carefully and share them with fellow travelers.
Before Your Trip:
- Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language – traveling with respect earns you respect.
- Travel lightly and remove all excess packaging – waste disposal can be difficult in remote places and developing countries. For further information, check out our article What to Pack for Your Trip to Peru?, which comes complete with a downloadable packing list.
- Ask your tour operator whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and if so, how you could help support them.
- Familiarize yourself with the World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism
While Traveling in Peru:
- Respect local cultures, traditions, and holy places – if in doubt, ask for advice or delay your visit until you’ve obtained local guidance.
- Learn more about the cultural experiences that you are exposed to.
- Ask locals before taking pictures of them, their children, or their property.
- Items from ancient civilizations may still be found. Although they may appear discarded or available to buy, leave them where you find them.
- Remember that local people have different ways of thinking and concepts of time, this just makes their perception different to your own, not wrong – cultivate the habit of asking questions.
- Travel off-season – this has many advantages: spreading out the flow of tourism means the destination can enjoy balance, having positive socio-cultural, economic, and environmental effects. As a traveler, you will experience a quieter atmosphere, lower prices, and better service. To learn more, our posts on the Best Time to Travel to Peru and 4 Things to Know About Sustainable and Community-Based Travel should prove helpful.
- Be friendly and open-minded: many customs and traditions that might seem weird to you are entirely normal to locals. Enjoy and embrace your differences!
Contribute to the Local Economy:
- Buy local products in preference to imported, industrialized goods. Buy direct, rather than goods obtained through intermediaries.
- Hire a local guide – you’ll discover more about local culture and lives, and they will earn an income.
- Use water sparingly – it´s precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people.
- Shop at local markets for your souvenirs.
- Refrain from “hard bargaining”. We all want that great deal but will that extra dollar hurt you or help the local vendor more?
- Don’t give out sweets or money, especially to children. Giving to children will only teach them that begging is rewarded. It is better to interact with children: playing football or simply exchanging drawings or photos can be more fulfilling and fun for both you and the children. Donating to a worthwhile charity will ensure longer-term benefits to a greater number of people. At RESPONSible Travel Peru we donate to our favourite local projects and charities annually.
Respect your environment
- When walking or hiking, stay on the trails. This will help preserve the natural beauty of the land.
- One of the joys of traveling in Peru is the spectacular variety of wild plants, rocks, and seashells you will see. These should remain in their natural environment, so avoid picking any. It is also illegal to extract many plant species.
- Avoid disturbing wildlife and damaging natural habitats. Take great care not to touch fragile flora and not to feed or touch wild animals or fish.
- Don’t discard litter when visiting out-of-the-way places and attractions, take it with you and dispose of it at your hotel or lodge. Waste disposal is often a major problem at outlying attractions and sites and it leads to litter and unhealthy environments for locals. (Please consult our blog on fighting plastic while traveling in Peru for more suggestions.)
- Soap and shampoos that are not made with phosphates are best for the environment as most water from the sewer and shower (definitely here in Peru) goes directly into rivers and the sea.
- Bring your own refillable water bottle to minimize plastic waste where possible. A bottle with built-in filter would be even better! And download apps to help you find free or cheap tap water to refill your bottle.
- Challenge any wasteful practices at your hotel or lodge when you see them. You can also report any such issues directly to us.
- Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin. Avoid buying products made from endangered species. Be aware that there are many markets were you may see an array of wild animals or animal-derived products for sale.
- Switch it off – whenever you leave your room, switch unnecessary lights and equipment off and play your part in reducing greenhouse emissions.
- Put your toilet paper in the bin, the sewage systems aren’t prepared to cope with an excess of paper being passed through them.
- Use public transport, hire a bike, or walk when convenient – it’s a great way to meet local people on their terms and reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
- Calculate your CO2 emissions on www.greenseat.nl, www.treesfortravel.nl, and www.co2.org. At these sites, it’s possible to calculate your CO2 emissions and how many trees need to be planted in order to neutralize your emissions. You can immediately plant them by donating money to this organization, which will be used for reforestation projects all over the world. We can also help to channel your donations to reforestation projects.
- To see the global warming effect of your flight, you can check out www.chooseclimate.org. You can see how much energy you use by flying here to Peru, for example, and learn how to put the outcome in a global context.
When you get back
- Write to your tour operator or hotel with any comments or feedback about your trip, it’s especially important to include any suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communities.
- If you’ve promised to send pictures or gifts to local people remember to do so, many are promised, and not all arrive!
- Why not donate to a local project in the area you’ve visited?
- Actively participate in tourism blogs and remind people to be responsible and ask for new tips on how to be responsible.
This post was originally published in January 2015 and last updated in November 2021.