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Want to know how to make a positive impact on the world while exploring it? Discover more about ecotourism and sustainable travel, plus get useful tips on how to embrace responsible tourism.

Pair of responsible travellers shopping at a local market

Source: Getty

Travel is more than a passion for many people; it’s a way of life. This is why being a responsible traveller is so important to many of us – including those who live in the places we love to visit.

But what does it mean to travel responsibly, and how can you combine the excitement of exploration with the ethics of sustainability and respect for local cultures? Our guide not only explores the essence of responsible travel, but it also provides practical advice to help you make a positive impact on the environments and communities you visit.

A few things to know before learning how to be a responsible traveller:

  • What is responsible travel? Exploring while being conscious of your travel footprint’s environmental, economic, and social impact.
  • What is ecotourism? A movement aimed at sustainable travel that conserves the environment and improves locals’ wellbeing. Ecotourism encourages travellers to look beyond the beaten path, engage with local communities in a respectful manner, and contribute to conservation efforts.
  • What is sustainable travel? Finding a balance that allows us to enjoy the world's beauty while preserving it and enhancing the destination for the future.

What can I do to be a responsible traveller?

Ready to make a difference while enjoying your trip? Here are some ways to practice responsible tourism.

10 ways to travel responsibly:

  1. Choose eco-friendly transport.
  2. Support local businesses.
  3. Be mindful of wildlife.
  4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  5. Respect your destination’s cultural norms.
  6. Contribute to conservation.
  7. Use water wisely.
  8. Travel during off-peak seasons.
  9. Educate other travellers.
  10. Choose sustainable accommodation.
Responsible traveller drinking from the reusable bottle she took with her on her hike

Source: Getty

10 ways to incorporate sustainable travel into your trips

1. Choose eco-friendly transport options

Many forms of transport increase the emission of gases like carbon dioxide, which accelerates climate change. So, how can you reduce your carbon footprint and emissions? When you’re able, opt for public transport, bicycling, or walking while exploring your destination. For longer distances, consider more sustainable travel options like trains and electric vehicles.

"So much research online will tell you it’s practically impossible to experience Italy without a car. I’m here to tell you otherwise! I've been to Italy six times and never hired a car. I've explored the north, centre and south of Italy — Lake Como, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terra, Carpi, Sicily, the Puglia region, and more — and I’ve done it all via train, bus, and ferry. On the rare occasion public transport hasn't been available or just too inconvenient, I've taken a cab or used a ride share app like Uber, Lyft, or FreeNow. These one-off cabs fairs are always much cheaper than car hire costs for the entire trip!"
Cherie H., Cover-More employee

A tip for using eco-friendly transport: 
Why not take in the sights of Amsterdam, Netherlands in an electric vehicle if riding a bicycle isn’t your thing? The city is a prime destination for a responsible traveller seeking to rent an electric car, thanks to its extensive network of charging stations and bike paths repurposed for eco-friendly vehicles. Plus, with its commitment to becoming carbon neutral, Amsterdam provides an ideal backdrop for environmentally conscious travellers to explore its rich history and vibrant culture sustainably.

2. Support local businesses

Not only does supporting local businesses help you immerse yourself in your destination’s culture, it also makes you a more responsible traveller. From where you stay and shop to what you eat and the activities you experience, choosing local businesses help to keep the economic benefits within the community. Plus, you’ll love the more authentic experience that most local businesses are proud to offer.

"Whenever I visit a new destination, I make sure to check out local craft and street food markets. It’s a great way to support local businesses while getting to know a new destination too."
Taryn B., Cover-More employee

A tip for supporting local businesses:
Visiting Spain and stopping at El Rastro, Madrid's iconic flea market, offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the city's vibrant culture and history through its variety of stalls and items. By purchasing unique, locally made products, visitors directly support small businesses and artisans, contributing to the preservation of traditional Spanish crafts. This bustling market not only promises a memorable shopping experience but also allows travellers to connect with the local community, making every find a treasure with its own story. 

3. Be mindful of wildlife

Planning to swim with pigs in the Bahamas or interact with monkeys in Bali? You can coexist with wildlife responsibly by following guidance from officials and staff, maintaining a safe distance, choosing ethical sanctuaries, and avoiding attractions that exploit animals.

“Observing animals in their natural habitat is an exciting way to learn more about the animal kingdom and Mother Nature... without causing harm. I do my best to support the conservation of wildlife by being selective of where and how I observe animals when I travel.”
Pankaj R., Cover-More employee.

A tip for being mindful of wildlife:
Planning a visit to Thailand but don’t want to ride the elephants because some are subjected to animal cruelty during training and everyday life? You can visit an elephant conservation centre in Thailand to help support the conservation of the species instead. You can walk through the jungle and watch elephants wade through rivers, or even volunteer and help feed the elephants.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Reducing waste while travelling is the essence of being a responsible traveller. You can help by packing light when it comes to items in plastic bottles and containers, as well as bringing multipurpose items to help minimises unnecessary consumption and the need for single-use products.

Then, try to reuse your items by carrying and consistently using things like reusable water bottles, fabric shopping bags, and refillable toiletries instead of opting for disposable versions. When you’re finished using items and ready to discard them, separate recyclables from other waste and dispose of them properly, even if it means carrying them until you find a suitable recycling facility.

“I love taking my reusable water bottle along with me when I travel! I carry it with me to stay hydrated while I explore without contributing to the world’s plastic waste problem.”
Keira M., Cover-More employee

A tip for reducing, reusing, recycling:
Visit Bali, Indonesia to learn more about protecting the environment. The island has banned single-use plastics like plastic bags and straws, so you can relax by the beach knowing you’re supporting reduce, reuse, and recycle practices.

5. Respect your destination's cultural norms

The beauty of travel is that you can embrace new experiences, cultures, and languages – but with that comes cultural norms you may not be used to. Whether you’re getting ready to spend Day of the Dead in Mexico or meet locals in Japan, it’s important to take time to learn about and respect the local customs and traditions.

Some ways to be a responsible traveller with respect for your destination’s culture include to dress appropriately, ask for permission before taking photos of people, learn local etiquette and avoid potentially offensive gestures.

"Japan’s announcement of tourist bans in certain parts of the Gion area in Kyoto and the installation of barricades in front of the Lawson convenience store in Kawaguchiko, serve as poignant reminders of the significance of respecting local etiquette. Embracing and honouring local cultures isn't just essential for preserving these cherished traditions for future visits, but also for the enjoyment of generations to come."  
Caroline S., Cover-More employee

A tip for discovering and respecting other cultures:
Book a tour that takes you to visit the Masaai culture in Kenya, Africa. You’ll have the unique opportunity to feel immersed in their vibrant traditions and customs that have been preserved through centuries. Plus, you can learn directly from the Maasai people about their harmonious relationship with nature and their sustainable living practices.

6. Contribute to conservation

At the heart of sustainable travel is conservation, which means protecting our natural environment – so future generations can enjoy their travels, too! To practice responsible tourism, you can participate in or donate to conservation and reforestation projects. This can also be a rewarding way to get more deeply involved with the places you visit.

“Being conscious of your environmental impact as you travel is so important! It’s something I carefully consider when planning my travels because I want future generations to be able to explore the world’s natural wonders, too.”
Nishi P., Cover-More employee

A tip for supporting conservation:
Visit Costa Rica for an opportunity to engage directly with some of the world’s most dynamic and diverse ecosystems. The Central American country is famed for its commitment to sustainability and conservation, with over a quarter of its territory protected as national parks or wildlife reserves. By choosing Costa Rica for a conservation holiday, you can support these efforts by participating in eco-friendly tours, volunteering in reforestation projects, and experiencing wildlife conservation programs firsthand.


7. Use water wisely

Water is a precious resource, especially in arid regions. Before you book your accommodation, do your research and try to choose a place to stay that implements water conservation practices for more sustainable travel. Once you’ve arrived, conserve water by taking shorter showers and using water-saving devices when possible. Little actions can contribute to a large impact on our environment, so remember to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and reuse towels at your accommodation.

“I take short showers and stay mindful about my water usage when I travel. I try to pass on the same habits to my kids too. It's never too early to teach them about how our actions can impact our environment and communities around us.”
Glen P., Cover-More employee.

A tip for water conservation:
Take a trip to Seoul, South Korea and learn about urban water conservation practices like rainwater harvesting. The city uses groundbreaking technologies and community efforts aimed at sustainable water use, so you can enjoy exploring the area knowing you’re helping to conserve water.

8. Travel during off-peak seasons

Want to support the planet and have fewer crowds at attractions during your trip? A responsible traveller can help alleviate over-tourism by travelling in shoulder or off-peak seasons. This not only reduces the impact on local resources but can also enhance your experience by avoiding crowds and higher prices.

“Travelling during off-peak periods is a great way to see popular destinations without large crowds. And, it’s usually cheaper to travel off-peak too.”
Elaine W., Cover-More employee

A tip for travelling during off-peak seasons:
Travel to Oahu, Hawaii during the off-seasons, which usually fall between mid-April and early June and September and mid-December. You’ll be able to explore Oahu's stunning beaches, hiking trails, and historical sites in a more relaxed and intimate setting with mild weather. Plus, you can participate in local events and festivals not typically showcased to the mass of tourists.

9. Educate other travellers

What is ecotourism worth if not enough travellers embrace it? Everyone can make a difference, so it’s essential to share your responsible travel experiences and tips with others. Education and awareness are key to spreading the principles of sustainable travel.

So, how can you help get the word out on how to be a responsible traveller? By sharing personal experiences and tips on social media, blogs, or even through casual conversations, you can inspire others to adopt more sustainable and ethical travel behaviours.

"If you have an incredible ecotourism experience overseas, telling your friends and family back home about it is a no-brainer. Many of my best travel experiences have come about through word-of-mouth recommendations, so I like to share my travel experiences with more loved ones to help them travel better too."
Brandon P., Cover-More employee

A tip for educating other travellers:
Venture to the Galápagos Islands with friends and family for a distinctive opportunity to educate both yourself and others on the principles of responsible travel and sustainability. Through guided eco-tours and voluntary participation in conservation projects, travellers can actively contribute to the preservation of this UNESCO World Heritage site while gaining invaluable insights into the practices of sustainable tourism.

10. Choose sustainable accommodation

Sustainable travel has been gaining attention over the past couple of decades, which means many accommodation providers are adopting conservation practices to promote responsible travel.

Look for hotels and lodgings that have sustainable practices in place, such as energy-efficient lighting, water-saving techniques, and recycling programs. You should also consider booking a locally owned accommodation to support the economy in your destination.

“With sustainable accommodation options popping up all over the world, now is the best time to think outside the box when booking travel accommodation. I’ve found that choosing sustainable accommodation has led to new experiences I otherwise would not have encountered!”
Nishi P., Cover-More employee

A tip for using sustainable accommodation:
Book your stay at Svart, positioned at the Arctic Circle in Norway. It’s acclaimed as the world's most sustainable hotel, setting a new standard in eco-friendly travel. Designed to be energy positive, it produces more energy than it consumes, thanks to innovative solutions like solar panels and geothermal wells. Svart’s commitment to preserving the pristine natural beauty of its surroundings and minimising its carbon footprint offers guests a unique, guilt-free luxury experience.

Responsible travellers exploring the city on bicycles

Source: Getty

Enjoy your destination as a responsible traveller

By following our 10 tips for sustainable travel, you can help ensure that the world remains an incredible place to explore for years to come. Whether it's choosing an ecotourism adventure, supporting local artisans, or simply being mindful of your consumption, every action counts towards a more sustainable and ethical way of exploring our planet. Keep travelling, learning, and adapting to make the most of all your holidays.

Ready to protect your responsible travels?

While you try to protect the planet, don’t forget to consider protecting your holiday.


Any advice is general advice only. Please consider your financial situation, needs, and objectives and read the Combined FSG/PDS before deciding to buy this insurance. For information on the Target Market and Target Market Determinations visit Cover-More TMD.