How to be a family of responsible travellers
Updated: Sep 1
As we look forward to next year and making our dreams of far flung worlds a reality we're already thinking about how to review the way we travel to lessen our footprints on other cultures and communities.
If you're anything like us, you're still occasionally yearning for a return to those backpacking days pre-kids, where adventure and exotic cultures and people filled our days and made extraordinary memories. It is of course possible to create those same memories with you children with a little extra planning, but if you're thinking about travelling at all off the beaten track to visit tribal and other traditional communities, you may find them fraught with challenges for even the most well-researched traveller.
We all want to be more responsible consumers and travellers to protect the planet and it's riches for the generations to come, so we asked for some tips on to how to be more considerate travellers from one of the leading specialists in the area, Responsible Travel.
1 Make sure you are confident that the community that you're visiting has extended an invitation to tourists. If you are in any doubt the best advice is not to visit – there is nothing worse than feeling very unwelcome.
2 Travel with a tour company with a proven track record (ask them for their written responsible tourism policy and references) – and a guide who speaks the same language as the tribe
3 If there isn’t one, hire a guide from the local community to ensure that you benefit from their knowledge of what is, or is not, appropriate.
4 Take time to read up on the people you are about to visit in a good guidebook or online.
5 Remember at all times that you are a guest in somebody else's home.
6 Be very sensitive about taking photographs. Put your camera out of the way until you feel comfortable about asking if it is OK to take photographs. Never take photos without asking, and check with your guide whether any payment or gift is expected in exchange for the photographs. Normally, we would discourage offering any payment – but in some communities, such as those of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, there is an established payment system which tourists must adhere to.
7 Ensure that local people benefit from your visit. Shopping for crafts or paying for the services of local guides or for photographs will benefit local people.
8 Ensuring that the money trickles down through the community to those most in need can be difficult. It is often best to put money directly into the hands of people who have been involved in the visit. Ask your guide about appropriate rates, and be aware that paying too little - or too much - can cause problems.
9 In some cases community funds have been created to support the marginalised and projects such as local schools. Enquire about these before you visit, and you might prefer to make a donation to ensure the economic benefits of your visit are spread throughout the community.
10 Consult your tour leader or holiday company before bringing gifts. It is often better to bring something which will benefit the community rather than individuals, such as items for the local school, for example, or sacks of rice, maize or sugar. Generally, any gifts should be given to the village chief or tribal elders for them to distribute, and where possible buy items in country – that way local traders benefit from your money, too.
And you want to start dreaming, or planning that future adventure, why not look at Mongolia which provides the backdrop for a family holiday like no other. The itinerary is a private trip so it can be adapted to suit your budget, travel dates and family – especially children. Whether you want to hike, camp, ger homestay, camel trek, horse ride or relax in some hot springs, it’ll be designed to suit you.
For more information or to book your dream family adventure go to Responsible Travel