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Sunday, March 6, 2016

NcdEcoblog: 6 Tips to Travel Reponsibly

Naga City, Philippines - The social media is a massive source of information for your next travel destination. Giving out these travel guides come with a great responsibility on reminding how important it is to travel responsibly. While I have my #NcdEcoblog series, I know it's not enough to share to everyone that there are lots of things to do for our environment. As a blogger, I share my travel photos and itineraries for people to visit and let everyone realize how blessed we are that we have a rich province and region. While showcasing these tourist destinations it is never intended to tell everyone that we can do whatever we like without thinking about the consequences. But unfortunately, there are souls who do unthinkable acts that destroy the beauty and tranquility of our tourist spots. I despise people who carve their names on trees, vandalize wall of rocks and stones, drop garbage at freewill and many other unacceptable acts. Last year of April, I already made a blog post on pledging that I will keep our tourist spots clean. This year, together with the Bicol Bloggers, we aim to strengthen that cause to travel responsibly and use our online social media presence to reach as many people as we can.

Now here are my tips on how to travel responsibly. Thankfully, traveling responsibly has been in my system ever since I was a child plus I have an environmentalist mom. These tips cover all the aspects of how we travel day in and out.

1. Bring your own water bottle. It doesn't only save the environment but it also saves you from spending for a bottled mineral water. Plus, your own bottle will lessen your chance of throwing or leaving it accidentally especially when almost empty. It's almost always okay to leave it behind because at the back of your mind you can just buy another one because it's cheap. When the water bottle is yours and have been one of your essentials with lots of memories with it, there's a greater possibility that you won't just leave it behind at all cost. Imagine leaving a bottle of mineral water anywhere near Colasi Falls (left photo), not a good sight, really.

2. Use eco-bags or reusable bags. We can never totally do away with plastic and there are things that needs to be placed in a container made of plastic. In reality, we are in a third world country and plastics are affordable for most of us Filipinos. But when we are talking about the secondary packaging, let's say a microwavable container then you'll put it in a plastic bag. Why not use an eco-bag or paper bag as a secondary packaging, right? In this way we are reducing the use of plastic little by little.

3. GO LOCAL. Souvenirs play a good symbolism and memory of your trip but do not buy products from endangered species, artifacts and the like. Buy and EAT local because locals know best. Don't eat at a fastfood chain, restaurant or coffee shop that's also available in your own towns/city. It's pointless if you will and you traveled a long way just to eat in the same fastfood chain? Oh c'mon go explore and be surprised. Not only that we support the local economy but this is a better way of helping the locals rather than giving out alms especially to the beggars. Sometimes its even better to purchase from the small players other than the too commercialized products. If possible, refuse plastic bags when buying from stores or souvenir shop. If your bags are with you, put them in your bags instead. Maximize the space of your bag / luggage. Pack smart and this is also a skill that we must learn whenever we travel. 

Biniribid, a local kakanin and common meryenda or dessert for Bicolanos for only P6 to P8.
4. Reduce your carbon emissions. The main human activity that produces CO2 are electricity, transportation and industries. We all contribute to using these three right? Even though you check-in in a hotel and you are paying for a price, traveling responsibly will mean turning off the lights and AC when not in use go out for a stroll (but for hotels and inns with a centralized key card, everything will be shut down once you pull the key card off the socket). Along with transportation, if your destinations have short distances plus weather is good, it will be nicer to travel by foot instead of driving around. Perfect example is in Baguio City, if you are in the downtown area, better walk than drive, you'll just find a hard time parking and traffic will just give you a migraine.You just have to plan your trip well prior to your visit. Again the internet is a very good source of travel guides that you can follow from point A to B, C and so on. Don't forget the mobile apps that you can also download before traveling. 

5. Reduce throwing non-bio packagings. When visiting an island or beach resort, most people leave behind packagings of soap or shampoo after bathing in fresh water. Transfer contents of shampoo/conditioner and soap into  small and travel containers which you can buy in department stores anywhere. In my case, I used the ones I got from hotel accomodations. See, they have purpose. 

6. Travel with RESPECT and TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL. Read about the place, its culture and people. Learn a few of the local words, meeting people while traveling is a one of a kind experience. Being a responsible traveler needs respect not only to the place but most importantly to the locals. Everything else will follow if we start traveling with respect. We have a term here in Bicol "mag-makulog", it's like having a sense of empathy and care for someone or something even if it's not your own. 

Recently, I have seen a post on Twitter and Facebook of who seemed to be "proud" students who went on an outing somewhere in Albay and vandalized their group name, section? on a stone on the foot of beautiful falls. These kids may not have been mindful of their actions and from a point of view of a traveler like, it is a selfish act. We can never claim nature, we can never own them even just for a while. So why put your names and monikers on it?

So there you go guys, these are my top five (5) tips on how to travel responsibly. There are still so many ways, would you care to share your own too? Don't forget to use the hashtag #iTravelResponsibly and share your photos/videos on how you travel responsibly. Are you up for the challenge? I hope you are! Don't forget to also use the hashtags #BicolBloggers and #nagacitydeck and we'll gladly feature your photos or videos in our social media accounts.

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