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How to Become a Responsible Traveler

While most of us are responsible travelers who obey the rules in the places we visit, there have been some recent high-profile cases of tourists behaving badly.

In July, a 23-year-old was rescued after falling into the crater of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius. CNN reported that the man and his companions had been hiking on an unauthorized trail, and the path had clear signs warning of danger.

In August, California’s Redwood National Park warned visitors that Hyperion, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest living tree, is off limits. Serious damage has been caused by people trying to reach the 380-foot coast redwood — which is located deep within the park in an area without trails — and leaving behind trash in the area. Anyone caught hiking there faces a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

And over the years, numerous tourists have been caught trying to carve their initials into Rome’s ancient Colosseum.

These stories are reminders that rules are in place for good reasons: to ensure safety, preserve historic sites and protect the natural world for future generations to enjoy.

Some of the steps you can take to be a responsible traveler include:

– Pay attention to rules regarding photography and be aware that it may be prohibited in some areas. For example, you’re welcome to take photos in most places at the Tower of London, except for the Jewel House, where the Crown Jewels are kept, and the Chapel of St. John, in the White Tower.  

– Selfie sticks are widely used, but they’re not allowed everywhere. Disney World bans handheld extension poles for a camera or mobile device. The Universal Orlando Resort permits selfie sticks at the park’s discretion, but notes that they must be properly secured and stowed away on rides and attractions. 

– Religious sites are, of course, places where you want to make sure you’re being respectful. Often, there’s a dress code that prohibits shorts or clothing that’s too revealing.  

But there may also be other rules with which you’re not familiar. For example, Cambodia’s ancient Angkor temple complex is a spiritual site for Buddhists. As a sacred place, loud conversation and noise are considered offensive. Monks are revered, and you should always ask permission before taking a picture.

With more people wanting to spend time outdoors, national parks are experiencing a boom in popularity. While you’re enjoying the stunning scenery and natural features, keep in mind the impact your visit can have on the fragile ecosystem.

The National Park Service urges visitors to recreate responsibly and follow the Leave No Trace principles. They include disposing of waste properly by taking all trash and leftover food with you, or depositing it in a designated receptacle; refraining from touching historic structures and artifacts; leaving rocks, plants and other natural objects where you find them; observing wildlife from a distance; and never feeding animals.

For help navigating travel plans and planning consult with JetSetGO.

Nikki Noya
Nikki Noya
Nikki Noya is a mom, athlete, wellness coach, personal trainer, and co-host of The Jet Set. She’s traveled the world as a professional volleyball player and strives to empower everyone to achieve vibrancy, energy, radiance, and beautiful health through fitness, nutrition, and balance.