Here at Brevitē part of our mission is to inspire travelers to bring good out in the world wherever they go, whether that means taking responsible photos or supporting local businesses. While tourism can be a positive force, it can also leave detrimental effects in its wake from over trampled natural wonders and defiled monuments to even a loss of privacy for local communities. We believe there’s a way to explore this beautiful world of ours responsibly.
We’ve pulled together the five ways everyday adventurers can be better below.
Take responsible photos
As photographers, this is a big one for us. First, get to know a place before you go. People’s attitudes towards having their picture taken are different in many parts of the world. For instance, some indigenous communities believe having someone take their photo is akin to stealing their soul. Always get permission before you take a photo—and make sure to always get parental consent before taking photos of children. Don’t know the language? Body language and a simple gesture pointing to your camera work great. And the more you interact with your subject, the more comfortable they’ll be showing you a side of their home, and the better the photo will turn out.
Support the local community
Seeking out the locals on your travels not only benefits the communities you are visiting by injecting cash into their economy directly, but it makes for a more impactful travel experience. Hit the markets and meet the makers and the local artists as you’re shopping. Find a local guide to take you around or a community-based tour company. Be careful about bartering, too. No one wants to get ripped off with escalated “tourist prices” but we feel it’s important to respect the value of a local’s handmade craft, expertise, and time.
Leave no trace
As outdoor lovers, we believe it’s important to protect our natural spaces so future generations can enjoy them as well. Whether you’re hiking in Patagonia or biking around NYC, you should always toss your trash in a proper receptacle, and if there isn’t one around, pack your trash out with you. When you’re exploring the great outdoors, be sure to stick to the designated trails, travel and camp on durable surfaces, and don’t approach or disturb the wildlife (or fellow hikers trying to enjoy the sounds of nature). Of course, the old adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” should always be remembered. And the easiest habit to make? Always carry a reusable water bottle. Soon enough, it’ll be something you’ll always have on you no matter where you go.
This sounds like an easy rule to follow, right? Staying longer at a destination already has so many benefits—it lets you immersive yourself more in a destination and allows you to dive into day-to-day local life. But there are more added benefits to increasing the length of your trip—it reduces your big, ugly carbon footprint. The slower and longer you travel the more you’ll be able to settle into a place and support local communities, too, i.e., not being a fly-by traveler.
Go your own way and be mindful about using geotags
In today’s social-media fueled world, it’s hard not to want to replicate all the envy-educing photos you see on Instagram. But the more travelers flock to the same spots—and we don’t just mean countries, but the same lookout points, waterfalls, hikes, you name it—the more these precious natural wonders and neighborhood alleys fall prey to over-tourism. If you’re queued up waiting to take the same photo of that well-documented view, that’s not going to make for an enjoyable travel experience either. Be mindful of using geotags in areas that might not have the infrastructure to support the droves of tourists dropping down on their funky-looking narrow streets. Or go find your own waterfall to snap—there are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. Simply, go your own way.
How do you try to be a better traveler? We’d love to hear your thoughts or tips!