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The Ultimate Responsible Travel Code of Ethics

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Americans are widely known to be obnoxious travelers. While traveling, I try to be a positive representative of my country and set good examples for other travelers. My summer #safeathome left me plenty of time for self-education surrounding social issues in our country. I realized that I could do so much better as a traveler in my hometown and beyond. Thus, this Responsible Travel Code of Ethics was created.

This Code of Ethics is for any traveler wanting to be a better guest in the destinations they visit.

Charlotte, North Carolina

This list was inspired by the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. You can read more about it here. This is my take on their responsible travel Code of Ethics, which includes more goals surrounding sustainability (duh) and inclusion of underrepresented voices.

At first, this list might seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath and know this Responsible Travel Code of Ethics is not supposed to be adopted all at once. Each time you travel–whether that’s locally, domestically, or internationally–try to adopt a new practice. Remember that this is a list of goals to adopt into your travels to become a better traveler. We’re asking for the effort, not perfection!

Let’s protect the planet and its people!

If you believe something is missing from this Code of Ethics, please let me know in the comments below or via email. Although I have deeply considered these goals, I certainly haven’t considered every aspect of ethical travel. Help me build this Code and shape travelers’ habits!

The Responsible Code of Ethics

Will you forget these responsible travel goals?

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    I will offset the carbon output of my transportation.

    I will choose alternatives to flying, when possible.

    Befriending locals abroad and learning from them

    I will reduce my plastic waste as much as possible.

    I will recycle and compost wherever possible.

    I will dispose of trash in the appropriate places.

    I will partake in at least one activity to connect me to the local environment at each destination.

    Strawberry picking at a nearby local farm!

    (Pssst…want to learn more about sustainable travel? Check out this interview with the owner of Authenteco Travel, the world’s only eco-luxury travel concierge!)


    I will use locally-owned businesses, instead of big companies, on the road to support the local economy.

    I will support at least one BIPOC business at every destination I visit.

    I will support a business owned by an under-represented community member of every destination I visit. This could include, but is not exclusive to, the following communities: LGTBQ, Indigenous, handicapped.

    A friend and I attended a fundraiser concert while in Belarus which raised money to build the first domestic abuse women’s shelter in my host city!

    I will not barter to unnecessarily low prices when I have the means to pay a fair amount.


    I will follow all local laws and regulations. Additionally, I will take reasonable precautions during my travels as not to unnecessarily burden local emergency services.

    Travel during COVID isn’t recommended….but if it’s necessary to travel please follow local guidelines, such as wearing a mask!

    I will be open to how other cultures and different perspectives of history.

    I will visit equally-beautiful, but smaller, destinations instead of visiting their over-touristed counterparts.

    I will travel in low-season whenever possible, especially when visiting over-touristed destinations.

    I will avoid attractions that keep wild animals captive.

    I will learn about the ugly side of the history of the destinations I visit.

    A walk through Charlotte, NC

    I will only participate in activities and excursions that respect all the local cultures of that destination and avoid participating in any activities with cultural appropriation.

    I will spark a genuine conversation with at least one local in order to truly learn about the destination and encourage mutual understanding.

    I will give back to the communities I visit. For example, I could ethically volunteer or donate to a community organization or participate in a clean-up.

    Supporting local farmers with a sunflower maze and flower picking

    Responsible Travel = Better Travel

    While this Responsible Travel Code of Ethics is intended to make you a more responsible traveler, I think you’ll find yourself experiencing better travel by pursuing these goals on the road. You’ll connect and learn more from the local communities you visit, and don’t we travel to learn and grow?

    Good luck!

    Will you forget these responsible travel goals?

    Subscribe to get a printable version of this Code. You’ll also receive GG updates.

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

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