Travel ad­vice Joan Scales on re­spon­si­ble travel

The Irish Times Magazine - - FRONTLINES - JOAN SCALES js­cales@irish­times.com

How we per­ceive the world is chang­ing and many peo­ple would like to feel that they can be a re­spon­si­ble trav­eller and tourist – but do not know how. One of the first things you can do is just stop for a minute – no­tice the sights, the scents, the lo­cal peo­ple go­ing about their busi­ness.

Too many peo­ple more of­ten than not man­age to miss – or worse still – ig­nore the at­mos­phere and the very things that make places spe­cial. Be­ing cul­tur­ally and so­cially aware is the start of be­ing a re­spon­si­ble trav­eller. Learn­ing about the cus­toms and cul­ture of the coun­try you are vis­it­ing will help you avoid of­fend­ing lo­cal peo­ple. Slow­ing down is an­other way, such as tak­ing a walk­ing or cy­cling hol­i­day. Seek out lo­cally run tours and trips where the spend­ing will go back into the com­mu­nity.

If you would like to travel more re­spon­si­bly there are a num­ber of com­pa­nies that can help. One of the bet­ter known is re­spon­si­ble­travel. com, which is UK- based but of­fers hol­i­days all over the world. The range of op­tions is ex­ten­sive: from stay­ing in Cuba with fam­i­lies, to ex­plor­ing ru­ral Ro­ma­nia, or a Ja­panese im­mer­sion hol­i­day.

Other com­pa­nies that can of­fer re­spon­si­ble in­sights into cul­tures in­clude Ex­plore, which re­cently restarted op­er­at­ing in Ire­land. Ex­plore is about ad­ven­ture travel with an eth­i­cal fo­cus.

In­trepid Travel spe­cialises in small groups and pro­vides trav­ellers with rich ex­pe­ri­ences. Where pos­si­ble, they em­ploy lo­cal guides, stay in smaller- scale, lo­cally owned ac­com­mo­da­tion, eat in lo­cal restau­rants and pur­chase sou­venirs from lo­cal ar­ti­sans. It of­fers a great range of fam­ily hol­i­days too.

Ex­o­dus, the ad­ven­ture travel com­pany, is friendly to solo trav­ellers and more than half of groups com­prise of lone tourists. There is no single sup­ple­ment and some tours are solo only.

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