Responsible Travel Tips

How you can help make a difference

In our Responsible Travel policy we are doing our best to foster the positive effects of adventure travel, while minimising our harmful impacts on local communities and their environment. With your help we can really make this happen. Here are a few good ideas about how you can help minimise the negatives and accentuate the positive aspects of adventure travel.

What to do before you travel

  • Learn a bit of the local language and don't be afraid to use it. Being able to say even a few words like hello, please and thank you will help you to connect with people.
  • Bring a phrase book on tour and keep practising to improve your confidence. You will also find some good language tips in the country dossier(s).
  • You may also find it helpful to research the culture, religion, traditions and local values of the destination you’re visiting. This will not only help you to appreciate the way different people live, but also make your experience more meaningful.
  • Learn about appropriate body language. Certain hand gestures like doing the thumbs up (positive in Western culture) may have a very different meaning in Turkey, for example. - Bring appropriate clothing with you (or purchase it at your destination, to save weight in your luggage and support local enterprises).
  • Be aware that both men and women may be required to dress modestly in in places of spiritual significance, like temples, churches or mosques. You’ll need long-sleeved shirts, trousers, a skirt that reaches well below the knee and shoes which cover your toes to cover up properly. You may miss out on visiting these special places without appropriate clothing, so it pays to be prepared.
  • Try to pack light. Reducing the weight of your luggage will reduce the amount of work the taxi, airplane, train, coach or expedition vehicle will have to do to transport your gear and therefore reduce carbon emissions – and you’ll make your own life easier!
  • In many countries you will encounter a level of poverty which you won’t find at home. Although we would generally discourage offering gifts to beggars, we would suggest that if you feel the need to help, bring a stack of pens and writing pads and hand these out to children rather than offering sweets or money. Your alternative gifts will still be popular and the parents will thank you for saving their children's teeth – access to dental services may not be readily available.
  • We’d also encourage you to think of alternative ways to help, such as supporting a local community organisation, which may be more constructive and offer more long term benefits.
  • Cut out plastic – remove and recycle plastic packaging of new travel gear before you pack, and bring a light cotton or string bag for your shopping so you can politely refuse plastic bags at shops and markets.
  • Try to bring rechargeable batteries as disposable batteries leach toxic chemicals as they degrade in landfill, and recycling facilities are scarce in some countries. - Bring your own metal water bottle. Fill up at restaurants or treat your own water on tour instead of buying lots of plastic bottles. Bear in mind that there may not be recycling facilities available at some destinations.
  • Take public transport to the airport and reduce the emissions caused by private cars etc.
  • Include a percentage amount for tips when you are working out your budget. Tips are the main means of survival for workers in many countries.

How to reduce your impact on tour

  • When you're out shopping for a bargain, haggling is an important part of making a purchase in many countries and you can have a lot of fun bantering and bartering with vendors. But just bear in mind that you don't need to be too aggressive. A small amount of money may not mean much to you, but could make quite a difference to the vendor.
  • Avoid shops, zoos, restaurants or activities which promote the harm or exploitation of endangered species.
  • Avoid buying items made of tropical hardwoods or items made of coral, turtle shells, skins, bone or ivory. These items promote the exploitation of endangered species and poaching, which decimates animal populations every year.
  • Tucan Travel discourages clients from engaging in any activities related to prostitution, sex shows or any activities which exploit children or vulnerable people in any way.
  • Help to keep traditional crafts alive by shopping for souvenirs direct from local artisans. Try to avoid mass-produced items which may not have been made in the local area and avoid chain stores.
  • Support locally-owned businesses such as restaurants and hotels. Try local cuisine, brands and brews.
  • Use public transport like local buses, walk, or hire bicycles where you can. Explore the area the way locals do and you’ll meet more people and get more 'in touch' with the community. Tipping is expected in many countries.
  • In Morocco and China we operate a Tipping Kitty so that you and the group can avoid the hassles. Please remember that tips are considered wages in some countries and people do rely on this money to survive.
  • Ask permission before you take a photo of someone. Simply pointing to your camera with a smile may be all you need to do to get the message across
  • We would discourage you from paying for photographs or videos as this encourages begging behaviour. However, if you agree to send a photograph to someone instead, please do remember to send that photograph as soon as you can.
  • Although we’re travelling on a schedule on our tours, please remember that time means different things to different cultures and their concept of time may differ from yours. Try to go with the flow and relax – you're on holiday after all!
  • Certain hand gestures may be considered impolite to people you are visiting, so it pays to think about your body language. It may also be considered very rude to wear a hat indoors, or for men to walk around the streets bare-chested, even in the heat of summer.
  • Please be aware that public displays of affection such as kissing and holding hands may be inappropriate in certain destinations, no matter what genders the couple is made up of.
  • It can be difficult to know how to deal with strangers – when to be friendly or when to be suspicious of someone's motives. We would encourage you to keep an open mind and expect that the people you meet are genuine and acting honestly, however if you are unsure, it could be a cultural difference so don’t hesitate to ask your tour leader for guidance.
  • Please do not throw litter in the street or throw it out of the windows while we’re travelling. Although the environment may not be as clean as you'd expect it to be at home, there is no reason to make it any worse. Please put your litter in public bins or take it away with you for safe disposal on our expedition vehicle.
  • Cigarette butts can be conveniently carried away in an empty film container.
  • In countries where recycling facilities are unavailable, we may be able to carry plastics with us and recycle elsewhere (if using a Tucan Travel vehicle). Otherwise we may be able to donate useful items like plastic bottles to local communities to be reused for water carrying, such as in African communities where plastic is necessary and scarce.
  • During optional activities, take your cues from the expert local guides. Follow their instructions when interacting with wild animals, swimming near coral reefs, walking in popular and pristine areas and visiting ancient sites. Be aware that you may need to take extra care in these areas to respect the natural environment.

What to do when you get home

  • Please remember to send the photos you've promised to the people you photographed – make it a two-way exchange!
  • Think about how you can continue to support organisations you encountered on your journey, such as environmental reserves and national parks, social causes and charities to help promote the welfare, culture and environment of those you were lucky enough to visit.
  • Let Tucan Travel know if you've seen any particular organisations that you think we could help in some way – we're always willing to consider new ideas.