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Responsible Travel on Tour

Before you go

Language: hello, thank you and goodbye

Learning a few words of the local language is a great way to break barriers. Try greeting shopkeepers, waiters, drivers and other local people. Show respect by learning to say 'thank you' and 'goodbye'.

Local Customs

Religious customs and local traditions vary enormously around the world and often play a large part in the local way of life. You should familiarise yourself with dress codes and thought patterns, and recognise them; the local concept of time is also likely to be less hurried than your own. Remember - you are the visitor, and by showing respect you will be respected and appreciated yourself.


Keep your packaging down to a minimum and avoid disposable goods as these often can't be recycled overseas. Eco-friendly soap gets our thumbs-up.


You may make special friendships and experience generous hospitality when abroad. Gifts that are evocative of your home country such as postcards and photographs make ideal presents - check your tour notes for any specific tips about the area you are visiting; once on tour, your tour leader will also be able to advise you on the appropriate circumstances to give.

On tour

Water: pollution and usage

If it is necessary to wash in streams or rivers, do not use detergents or other chemicals. There are a number of eco-friendly soaps available for travellers. Remember, it may be someone's drinking water further downstream. Use water sparingly in dry countries. (For more on Drinking Water, see 'A good drink' below.)

Souvenirs and shopping

Avoid buying souvenirs that exploit wildlife or threaten endangered species. Buying local souvenirs helps the local economy; whilst it is often customary and even fun to haggle, stop once you have got a reasonable price: the low price you achieve may be at the expense of the vendor.


Avoid disturbing wildlife and damaging natural habitats. Take great care not to touch coral reefs and not to feed or touch wild animals or fish. Stay quiet when viewing animals on safari.

For more information see

Plants and shells

One of the joys of travelling is the spectacular variety of wild plants and sea shells you will see. These should remain in their natural environment, so avoid picking any. It is also illegal to import some plant species.


Items from ancient civilisations may still be found or bought in countries such as Peru and Turkey. Although they may appear discarded or available to buy, leave them where you find them.

Transport: big, small, new or old?

Transport fuels the local economy and provides a livelihood for many. Sadly it also pollutes. Be sure, however, not to discriminate against those who can't afford some of the newer, energy-efficient technologies, yet may have a lower ecological impact than the wealthier competitor. Many of Thailand's humble tuk-tuks, for instance, are old but run on methane gas, which is relatively clean.


Don't give out sweets, pens or money, especially to children. Giving to children will only teach them that begging is rewarding and can undermine parental authority. It is far better to interact with children. Cat's cradle, frisbees 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.


To state the obvious, the world is full of it and you don't want to add to the problem yourself. Beyond that, however, it's up to you to decide how strongly you should feel about other people's litter: many walkers, for example, are happy to pick up litter along the trail. It's your call. Remember, however - many countries do not have adequate litter collection, never mind recycling or waste reduction schemes; so the less you create, the better.

A good drink

Where plastics are not recycled, consider taking a water bottle or filter and purifying your own water.

Photos: think before you click

People in colourful local dress often make good subjects for photographs, but think before you snap. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask permission before taking photographs.

For more information taking photographs on holiday, download our photography guide produced by the University of Surrey

Once back home

Why not consider contributing to the many projects and organisations you may have come across on your tour?

You can also really help us by giving us your feedback. Or maybe you have a question about your tour or our policies. Whatever it is, you can email us -

Finally, you can help support many of the charitable initiatives we are involved with to help people and the environment in the countries you are travelling to.

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