“There are a growing number of websites that promote responsible tourism businesses,” Honey says. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council accredits and recognizes certification programs for tour companies, and travelers can look up the lists of these programs through the GSTC website. Examples include Rainforest Alliance and Earth Check. Companies that are certified by a GSTC-recognized or accredited body will display the certification logo on their websites and marketing materials.
Budget-oriented airlines make it affordable to plan a vacation itinerary hopping from city to city via short one-way flights, especially in Europe, but Honey advises travelers stick to a rule of thumb: “If a plane ride is an hour or less, don’t take the plane.” City-hopping by rental car, bus or train reduces your carbon footprint and also lets you see the countryside in between hot spots, giving you a fuller picture of the country. And given how much time it can take to arrive early at the airport, check in, go through security and then wait to board, traveling by land may not be any slower — a 3-hour train ride takes the same amount of time as a 1-hour flight that you arrive 2 hours early for.
9. If you’re not sure something is ethical, research it
Is it ethical to visit an elephant sanctuary? Should you still eat local food if it may be grown unsustainably? How aggressively should one haggle in countries where that’s the norm? What are the red flags that something that looks ethical might not be? If you’ve got questions like these, Honey says, there isn’t a single resource with every answer. (For one thing, not everybody agrees on what it means to be ethical and/or sustainable.) She recommends searching for media articles and other research pieces for each scenario. In some cases, such as with elephant sanctuaries, it may not be a question of “Is this ethical?” but rather, “Who does this ethically?” And since each traveler has their own personal beliefs, ultimately, it’s up to you what you’re comfortable with.
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