Planning a break? Curious about a place, it’s people or it’s history? Fancy a romantic getaway? A short city break? An adrenaline fuelled adventure trip?
If you want to do any of the above or some other kind of travel and have a conscience that’s always encouraging you to make more ethical choices where the the internet presents all the more confusing options or none at all - then you’ve landed on the right writeup.
Having travelled to some of the farthest and most exotic parts of the world, from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and the Caribbean to Russia, China, Japan, India and beyond - I’ve crafted a simple 3 rule formula that I swear by to ensure my ethical self doesn’t suffocate.
1. Eat what the locals eat - visit markets and go local on food I try to enjoy food grown and made locally that I know has not travelled thousands of miles to reach me hasn’t been sitting in a refrigerator for yonks - and it always tastes much better than a ‘mango in Greenland’ or ‘avocados in Russia’. Finding time to explore the local markets is also provides great insight into what the local produce is like and what to order when you’re visit a restaurant.
2. Find green energy options - you’ll be surprised by what you find I lookout for eco guest houses and bed and breakfasts that are able to describe exactly how they harness renewable energy (solar, hydro etc.) and have proof on their website. Even when travelling you can opt for more eco friendly avenues. For example, in India’s capital New Delhi the old tricycles with a passenger seat at the back have now been replaced by e-rickshaws - rickshaws that run on electricity. If you feel like you are struggling to find greener alternatives then go back to the basics - cycling, shopping in local markets and cooking your own grub (great experience) and opting to stay in places that are less reliant on air conditioning etc.
3. Feed the local economy Your visit to a new place is a great opportunity not just for yourself but for the locals too. Try to support small, local, family owned businesses. Buy from them, learn from them, give them your custom - this builds a balanced and symbiotic relationship and helps promote the right kind of tourism in regions.
4. Use ethical travel companies
If you prefer using tour operators to plan your trip, always opt for those that take an ethical approach and talk about their ethical travel policies on their website - specifically companies who opt for using local family-owned accommodation, provide local and organic meals in their excursions which ensures that the money you spend helps support the local community and economy.
Soulscape is a UK based ethical wellness travel company that spends months getting to know local communities in each of their destinations to develop long-lasting relationships with local communities and suppliers to curate authentic travel experiences that support local economies.
5. Explore the lesser-know and immerse yourself in local culture
Seek out local culture - from music, arts and crafts, festivals, foods and communities. Immersing yourself in the culture of the place you visit and the people is an amazing way to experience the true magic of any destination.
If you use a tour company to book your trips, then opt for smaller groups that are able to work responsibly with local providers, communities and causes to curate authentic experiences rather than those designed to pleased large groups of tourists.
Manjul Rathee is a traveller, lover of spicy foods and a social entrepreneur for the greater good. She is the CEO & Founder of Soulscape a UK based wellness travel company specialising in creating enriching and ethical travel experiences rooted in creative learning, cultural immersion and complete wellbeing. You can follow her on Twitter.