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POD Top Ten Tips for Responsible Travel

Date added: Tuesday 17th June 2014

PoD Volunteer: Top tips for responsible travel

Gemma is the Placement Manager at PoD ( here is her run down of her top 10 tips for responsible travel.

Volunteering is a great way to get to know the local community and a fantastic way to travel responsibly by helping local projects. However when you are abroad travelling or on your gap year there are extra steps you can take to avoid your actions causing offense or harm to the local environment. Following these top tips will help you become an ethical traveller!

1. Buy locally - This way you get to explore the markets and shops sights and smells plus try new local delicacies (which can be quite an experience!) By buying directly from the farmer and small businesses you are helping to ensure they are paid a fair amount for their goods.

2. Haggling- We all like a good bargain but there are right and wrong ways to bargain when travelling abroad. Top rule is to be friendly, smile and remember itís all about compromise (but donít show that you like the item too much!) Remember you can always walk away if the price isnít right and donít worry if you ended up paying 10% too much- you wouldnít even notice this extra mark up when shopping at home!

3. Understand and respect local customs- The last thing you want to do is offend locals when you arrive so itís good to check out what is socially regarded as rude in local customers. In Malaysia it is rude to point with a finger (you should use your thumb), in Thailand the head is the most sacred part of the body so you should not touch anyoneís head and in India when eating with your hands you should not eat using your left!

4. Use water carefully- Clean water is very valuable in many countries so try not to waste water by taking long showers or leaving taps running.

5. Use of refillable water bottles- Many countries do not have recycling facilities so each plastic bottle you throw away will end up on a rubbish heap. Use refillable water bottles wherever possible.

6. Ask before taking a photo- In certain societies around the world people believe that taking a photo takes their soul too so itís always polite to ask before talking a photo of someone and they may like to see their photo on your digital camera once you have taken it.

7. Carefully think about the souvenirs you buy- When buying items itís good to carefully consider purchases and make sure you are not supporting activities that damage the environment or are a result of illegal activity. Make sure you are not buying a souvenir made from ivory, endangered hard woods, ancient artefacts or endangered animals.

8. Respect the environment- When trekking keep to the well walked paths, do not damage coral when diving and do not remove anything from its natural environment. Read and follow local national park rules and regulations.

9. Travel Green- Explore the country by using public transport, bike or simply walking when itís convenient. It reduces pollution and carbon emissions plus itís a fun way to meet locals!

10. Get involved with local communities- The best memories can be made from joining with local communities but donít forget to ask first before entering a holy place and make sure you respect local cultures, traditions and are dressed appropriately (many religions prefer visitors to have covered shoulders and legs before entering certain building or areas, if in doubt just ask!)

And an extra one for luck!

11. Hellos and Thank Yous- Itís easy to learn two words before arriving into a new country. A smile and even a badly pronounced ďhelloĒ or ďthank youĒ will get you a long way and they will respect you for trying!

If you would like to explore the world and volunteer you can view a range of project options from PoD Volunteer here:

You can find out more about PoDís responsible travel policy here: