Our Tips for Responsible Travel


My mother was the first person who introduced me to the incredibly exciting world of travel.

When she took me on my first trip, I had never before heard of responsible travel; nor had I heard of it on my second or third.

Responsible Travel

My Mom and I travelling together in Africa

But the more I travelled, the more I learned about how much of an impact we have on the environment, and others, with every choice we make.

Responsible Travel

Local Masai Mara women in Kenya, Africa

I don’t enjoy travelling to exotic destinations to witness locals being exploited by people who don’t know any better.

I am also not fond of seeing exotic animals on chains with their captors charging tourists for photos when these animals belong in the jungle.

And I certainly do not like seeing majestic elephants giving numerous rides to humans all day long in the heat, or painting pictures, when they should be grazing naturally with their families.

It is travellers who are responsible for doing the research themselves and choosing whether they want to contribute to the exploitation, or make the responsible decision to opt out.

I have seen too much suffering to not take the time to look into things myself and become a responsible traveller.

I ask, and hope, that people do the same.


Not all people on this planet have the luxury of travelling , but you do.

Respect the locals, and the environment, and preserve it for travellers in the future.

Responsible Travel

This family invited us into their home in Jaipur, India to celebrate Holi

Responsible travel is about bringing you closer to the environment and cultures, and involving the locals in tourism.

Doing this in a responsible way allows locals to be a part of your holiday and benefit from your visit.

Sapa, Vietnam

This lady and Cody were best friends by the end of our trip in Sapa, Vietnam

If you would like to take a photo of someone, ask. Money may be expected, and if you are not prepared to pay, do not take the photo.


Please do not support animal entertainment.

This is not Responsible travel

This is NOT responsible travel

Chances are, if it does not come naturally to the animal, they are not enjoying their lives.

This includes, running with the bulls, elephant shows, crocodile farms, tiger temples, ox rides, horse and carriage rides, getting your photo taken with slow loris, or orangutans.

Pata Zoo, Bangkok, Thailand

Depressed orangutan at Pata Zoo in Bangkok

No being on this earth wants to be chained up, and captive.


Animals cannot survive in a destroyed habitat, and locals rely heavily on the environment.

For many it is their livelihood.

Kep, Cambodia

Hiking the jungles near Kep, Cambodia

Consider trekking into a forested area, instead of taking a big bus loaded with 40 people.

Don’t leave physical evidence of your visit, stick to the foot paths, and leave the environment as you found it.

Responsible Travel

Look what Giselle found crawling on her leg

Refrain from buying souvenir trinkets from locals made from animal bones, coral, feathers, or ivory. This encourages the illegal trade of flora and fauna.


There is nothing more disrespectful than walking down the streets of Bangkok in a tank top, bikini bottoms, and no pants, or putting your dirty bare feet up on a table at a restaurant.


Yes we have seen it all. There seems to be this attitude with some travellers that goes something like this…….”This is my big vacation, I don’t give a shit, I am going to do whatever I want”

When you are in a foreign country. Have respect. Wear beach clothing on the beach, and behave as you would at home, assuming you are well behaved in your own country.


Ok, SO I am guilty of visiting a Starbucks every once in a while for my coffee fix, but everywhere we eat is locally owned.

Support the locals.

Chances are you will have a much more authentic experience, the food is always better, and your money is going to to support local people and not some MASSIVE chain restaurant.

More than ever, we need to take responsibility for our actions, and help take care of the planet, and other humans and non humans that inhabit it with us.

Sarangkot, Nepal

Hooray for Responsible Travel

There is a reason we all love to travel.

Please do your part to help preserve this incredible world.

What are some tips you have for responsible travel?


Comments To This Entry.
  1. Karianne April 10, 2015 Reply

    Responsible travel is such an important thing – and this post just shows how easy it is. Do your research, know about the country you are visiting and just don’t be an idiot. I lost count of the number of times I found myself disgusted with the behaviour of tourists in Asia, Thailand in particular and of how many people “couldn’t wait to ride an elephant”.

    For me, one of the best things about responsible travel, is that you get the chance to meet local people. By eating in local restaurants and shopping in local markets, you avoid eating your meals with hoards of other tourists and start to get a real understanding of the people who live in the country you are visiting. Since learning more about responsible travel, our travels have been more rewarding in so many ways.

    • Giselle and Cody April 12, 2015 Reply

      Karianne, it’s hard not to get upset when you see so many lining up to ride elephants or go to tiger temple. Many people are not aware what their money is supporting, so it’s very important to educate people and offer alternatives. Even after doing that many people still want to have that “special” photo on top of an elephant. Silly.
      We always do the local thing. If I wanted to be around tons of other foreigners I would just stay home and shop in the malls here. πŸ™‚

  2. Amanda Burger April 10, 2015 Reply

    What a fantastic post! I wish everyone could be more mindful and responsible, especially when traveling! πŸ™‚

  3. Mindy & Ligeia April 10, 2015 Reply

    Really great post. Completely echo all of your points!

  4. Tine April 11, 2015 Reply

    I totally agree! Except for paying for photos. I never pay for a photo, because I don’t want to learn the locals that they can make money by having their photos taken because there might come a day where no one wants to take their photo. But that is just my thought πŸ™‚ I do also try to stay in locally owned hotels/guesthouses/hostels and so on in order to support them instead of making a foreigner even richer πŸ™‚

    • Giselle and Cody April 12, 2015 Reply

      We never pay for photos as well but we always ask to take photos of locals. If they say no or ask for money we politely decline. We have watched so many people take pictures of someone else even after the say no, or put their hand up to the camera.
      People need to respect that not everyone wants to have their photo taken πŸ™‚

      Great tip on staying local and not in some big foreign hotel chain.

  5. Great set of tips – especially when it comes to ‘vacation mentality’. It’s a weird paradox where people who are experiencing new things seem to think that because there are a few new things happening around them, everything is different, and therefore that gives them the right to do everything different than they would at home… like throwing ‘common sense’ (that thing that’s not really common) into the wind, along with manners, respect and courtesy.

    Just because a few things are different, doesn’t mean we can lose ourselves and just act completely inappropriately. We are not only guests in a foreign country… we are ambassadors for our own country.

    I guarantee if you do something disrespectful you will get the question “where are you from?”… why is that? Judgement for future travellers too (which means those before you have set the example to which you will be judged… want to fall in line, or set a positive example and have a better experience as a result?). Showing respect in ANY country or situation is always greeted with the same (if not higher) level of respect.

    word. Awesome post!

  6. caryl April 16, 2015 Reply

    A good reminder to us all – seen far too many travellers misbehaving of late and if I see one more person in a temple wearing hot pants I might lose it…

    Adding to your point about photos, I’d ask people to consider not taking pictures of children – they are often too young to give their proper consent to understand where the photo may end up (even if there is no malice behind it).

    Also not to buy things off children selling on the beach / street, not to give to beggars who are using children or to visit orphanages… children are not tourist attractions and should be left to be children.

    I think i’d also ask people to think about the kind of volunteering they do too, so many people want to volunteer with children just for a short-time and sadly some of our world’s most vulnerable children have to go through endless goodbyes and form disrupted attachments.

    A really useful and interesting post!

  7. Kristin McNeil April 17, 2015 Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I want to be a responsible traveler and do my part, but I never really knew how to do that. In theory it’s a grand idea, but in practice it’s very confusing. You just gave me actual tangible things I can do differently and educate others to do the same. Thank you so much! Yay for sustainable tourism!

  8. Angie April 19, 2015 Reply

    These are such great tips and I love that your mom introduced to such responsible travel!

  9. Abi April 20, 2015 Reply

    Responsible travel is SO important – even if we disagree from time to time on the smaller points of what we each believe responsible travel does or doesn’t involve. I’d add “don’t take things from places as souvenirs” – by this I mean parts of temples, beaches, coral etc. Leave it where it is and take a photo instead πŸ˜‰

    • Giselle and Cody April 22, 2015 Reply

      Abi, another great point!!
      So many people find it important to collect “things” from their trip.
      There is no need to take pieces from a temple or coral. Just imagine if everyone did that.
      Good-bye Angkor Wat πŸ™‚

  10. Ayngelina April 20, 2015 Reply

    I love the animals are not entertainment tip, I always feel uneasy when it comes to animals in tourism.

    • Giselle and Cody April 22, 2015 Reply

      Ayngelina, there is no difference between animals used for entertainment and animals used for consumption.
      Except in people heads to make themselves feel better. They are all suffering.

  11. Laura April 20, 2015 Reply

    I saw a woman wearing shorts just like your photo (along with a bare midriff) just the other day. There’s pretty much nowhere that’s ok unless you’re on a beach. Mystifying.

    • Giselle and Cody April 22, 2015 Reply

      We agree Laura. We have witnessed people dressed in short shorts trying to get into temples.
      After getting turned away for not being dressed properly they get upset and cause a bigger scene.
      People just need to do their research before heading to holy sites.

  12. Diana Edelman April 20, 2015 Reply

    Yes. And Yes. And even more YES. Thank you! I am constantly shocked by people’s ability to respect other cultures and Thailand was a prime example of Tourists Behaving Badly.

    • Giselle and Cody April 22, 2015 Reply

      Diana, oh Thailand is such a perfect example of tourists behaving badly.
      Elephant trekking, Tiger Temples, Crocodile shows, Full Moon parties etc….Ugggh
      People just go and act as crazy as possible without thinking at all πŸ™

  13. Leah April 21, 2015 Reply

    Great post. Responsible travel is SO important, yet so much tourism revolves around irresponsible practices. It truly is up to travelers to “vote with their dollars” and choose to forego the activities that are harmful.

    • Giselle and Cody April 22, 2015 Reply

      Great point Leah. It’s crazy how a lot of people have no idea what their dollars are supporting.
      When we would explain what happens at elephant camps and how they are trained, people were shocked.
      The most important thing is to educate travellers and hope that they will make more responsible choices.

  14. Toni April 23, 2015 Reply

    Hear Hear! Great read πŸ™‚

  15. Murielle Standley May 7, 2015 Reply

    I love this post. Thank you. We are trying very hard to raise awareness of sustainably run tourism businesses, we share your values. We have written a post with 10 tips to travel more sustainably ( and we also wrote about one of our hotels that makes guests aware of exploitation of elephants in Thailand ( Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, we love your site.

    • Giselle and Cody May 9, 2015 Reply

      Murielle, Thank you so much and super happy that you came across our page.
      We will make sure to check out your posts and it’s great to hear about the hotel raising awareness towards elephant exploration. Thanks for sharing your tips as well.

  16. A wonderful well-written article. It’s great to read how passionate travelers are about responsible tourism. I wonder… was there a point when a light bulb went off in your head and you realized the importance of responsible tourism?

    • Giselle and Cody January 30, 2016 Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment Rashaad. Responsible travel really hit us when we decided to go vegan while in Thailand.
      We didn’t want to exploit humans and made the connection to not exploit animals as well. From that point we have always remained conscious our where our money is going and who is being affected by our choices. Try to leave as little footprint as possible.

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