As the world gingerly opens back up to travellers, we must be more socially responsible with when, where and how we travel. Many places are still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, with growing cases and new variants to be wary of. If you are planning on travelling abroad over the next few months, here are several ways that you can be respectful of the people who live in the place you are visiting and be a more responsible traveller.
Make informed decisions about WHERE you travel
This isn’t the time to be ticking off your bucket list. When you’re choosing where to travel to, pay attention to current virus rates and don’t visit destinations that are currently struggling with high numbers of cases or hospital admissions – they would struggle to cope if they also had to treat tourists. Also consider the vaccination rates in the places you are considering travelling to – if a country has a low vaccination rate, you could be spreading the virus during your trip.
Avoid busy places and visit places off the beaten track
When you’ve decided upon a safe country to visit, think carefully about where you will stay. Capital cities and big tourist destinations should be avoided at the moment, in favour of quieter spots that are off the beaten track. Try to avoid crowds of people and enjoy a more relaxing holiday – you can always visit big attractions or enjoy the nightlife on your next trip.
Respect the rules in the county you are visiting
Every country has different rules that are constantly changing. Research into the current rules for quarantining, wearing masks, social distancing and other regulations prior to travelling. The rules are likely to be different than in your own country but don’t complain and obey them. Be respectful of the people who live there.
Put your money into the local economy
Places that rely on tourism for their local economies have been struggling over the past 18 months. Help to support the people that live in the places you are visiting by shopping at local markets and in locally owned shops and visiting independently owned bars and restaurants. Avoid big chain shops and restaurants and support the local economy.
Avoid crowded indoor spaces
Don’t contribute to problems with crowded indoor spaces in large tourist attractions. Stay clear of busy shopping areas and popular attractions like galleries and museums, and focus your travels on explore the natural landscapes of the places you are visiting. Take long walks in nature, swim in the sea, or wander around towns admiring the architecture. There is plenty to see and do outdoors – especially if the sun is shining.
Be considerate to locals and other tourists
Wear masks, use hand sanitiser and practice social distancing throughout your trip – even if the rules state these safeguards aren’t essential. By taking all necessary precautions, you are not only reducing the chance of contracting the virus yourself, but also of spreading it to others.
Download local coronavirus tracking apps
Many countries have launched government-backed track-and-trace apps for smartphones that send an alert advising you to quarantine if you come into contact with anyone who has the virus. Download these apps when you arrive in your destination to help to protect others.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.