Looking for responsible, ethical honeymoon travel tips? Of course you are, because you know that living a compassionate life in line with your ethics is all kinds of sexy.
So, we’re here to help with 18 travel considerations for conscious couples like you who want to make sure that you do no harm on your honeymoon travels. Get ethical honeymoon travel tips on what to avoid, and how to use your travel experience as an opportunity to leave a bit of love in the places that you visit.
18 Ethical + Responsible Honeymoon Travel Tips
- Spend on locally produced goods.
“Hands down, the best way to have a positive impact (or at least not a bad one) is to do all things local,” says Irina Vishnevskaya, travel planner + founder of Alle travel. If you’re drinking wine, pick a local one to support the local winemaker, says Irina. This reduces the need to ship heavy bottles across the world. “It’s really, really bad for the environment AND the local economy when you choose to drink French wine in Peru, for example. It’s not only the responsible-traveler thing to do, but it also makes for far more fulfilling and enjoyable travels.”
- Be mindful of your use of water and electricity while traveling.
Know that even though you’re not the one directly footing the bill, someone is, and not just monetarily, says Irina Vishnevskaya. In many parts of the world, electricity isn’t as basic as you may be used to, and clean (warm!) water is a real luxury. “Be conscious of lights and turn them off when not using them, turn the running water off when you brush your teeth, and wait till you get home to stand under the shower for 30 minutes and ponder the meaning of life.” Amen!
- When bargaining at markets and stalls, please make sure you’re being fair.
In certain parts of the world, bargaining for products is a part of the culture. And as a visitor, it can sometimes feel like local shopkeepers or taxi drivers are trying to take advantage of you. “By all means, do stand up for yourself and bargain- it’s can be a great way to interact with locals and even make friends,” says Irina Vishnevskaya. “But please keep in mind the bigger picture when bargaining- it’s easy to slip into intense negotiations over a mere $1.Think about how far that small bit of cash can go for the local you are purchasing from. Consider that the fair market price of any good or service is what is it worth to you, not the furthest you can possibly drive the price down. Remember– if you don’t think twice about splurging on a nice hotel or enjoying a tasty cocktail by the pool, then stop trying to bully the local out of a couple of dollars.”
- MORE TO READ: 18 Top Tips for Planning the Best Honeymoon Ever!
- You may have visions of riding elephants or getting a photo with a tiger, but please don’t.
In situations like this, the animal’s life is turned into a charade for tourists, and no matter what you may be told: no, the animal is not happy, says Irina Vishnevskaya. (This is also one is top of the most important ethical honeymoon travel tips in our books.) This doesn’t mean all wildlife is off the table, though! Seek out initiatives which allow you reasonable proximity to observe wildlife that does not encroach on their natural behaviors, such as safaris and treks which are effective in protecting wildlife as well as giving the local communities a stable source of income. “You can do treks in Borneo to see Orangutans- there, you can stay in luxurious rainforest lodges and see Orangutans in their natural habitat,” says Irina Vishnevskaya.
- Avoid the “volunteerism” trap at orphanages in third world countries.
Your visit is likely making the institutionalization of children profitable, doing more damage than good. Consider that unless you have the professional skills or training that would allow you to work with children of a similar age in your own home country, you are probably not qualified to help children in another. Instead, ask whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip that do not rely on interaction with young or orphaned to be sure you’re sticking to your intentions for ethical honeymoon travel.
- Research and respect the culture of the place that you are honeymooning in.
Dress and behave appropriately. “Remember: you are a guest, and you are to respect the culture you’re visiting- it’s you who should adapt to the local way of life, not vice versa,” suggests Irina Vishnevskaya. “Wear clothing that is accepted by the local culture, even if it means dressing more modestly than you’re used to. Yes, even if it’s really hot and humid. Observe local customs and follow them as much as possible- there are many different concepts of time, personal space, communication etc. do your best to remind yourself that there is no wrong or inferior, just different.”
- Support local businesses and sellers for more ethical honeymoon travel.
You’ll have a far more authentic and personalized experience when you choose a family-run tour or eat a restaurant owned by locals. Plus, eating and living like locals you’ll likely enjoy better prices while putting money back into the pockets of the people who need it most.
- If you plan on bringing back souvenirs, make sure that they are locally made and fair trade.
There’s little value or authenticity in purchasing a bauble made in China when you’re in Uganda. The carbon cost of transporting these knick-knacks adds another reason to instead choose a locally-made curio. If you’re unsure, ask the vendor who made the item, suggests Misty from Green Suitcase Travel. (Check out some more ethical travel pointers here.)
- Don’t buy goods made from parts of endangered species like sea-turtle shells or the ivory of elephants tusks. This supports the capture, murder and illegal trade of species that have already had their numbers decimated and are in danger of disappearing from the planet. Seriously, we can do better, can’t we? And don’t take home shells or coral – in many countries this is illegal, anyway. Instead, find a local artist or sanctuary where you can support someone who draws, paints, sculpts or even designs fabrics inspired by prints of the creature you are honoring, without contributing to their death.
- Learn a few basic phrases in the local language, including “thank-you”, “please”, “hello”, “yes”, “no” and “goodbye” at the bare minimum. Not only is this a fun way to immerse yourself more deeply into the local culture, but it will also almost always elicit a smile or warm response from the local you’re interacting with. People take an interest in you when you show an interest in them, and who knows – you might even be rewarded by making new local friends.
- Be respectful when photographing in public. Especially when visiting holy, sacred sights or memorials – understand that people around you may be practicing their religion, mourning a loved one, or simply not wish to be photographed. Be aware of people’s sensitivity to being photographed; always ask first. And if you’re photographing a local who is clearly dressed in traditional gear and posing for you as a means of income, please make sure to tip them appropriately as a sign of gratitude, respect, and fairness.
- Don’t leave your trash behind.
Littering is yucky in the most advanced of cities, where there services and systems in place to handle it. It’s even worse when you dump your wrappers, water bottles or trash in a forest, ocean or remote village that is not equipped to clean up after you. Keep a little bag with you to store your trash, and dispose of it properly once you’ve returned back to your accommodation.
- Use an eco-friendly sunblock which doesn’t destroy coral or harm sea-life.
This is vital when you’re heading out into the oceans or water on a scuba or snorkeling trip, but just as relevant for a dip on the local ocean. When the chemicals from sunblock get into water they decrease corals’ defenses against bleaching, damage their DNA and prevent corals from reproducing and surviving in their natural environments. Stock up on eco and reef-friendly sunscreen before you travel.
- Consider the environmental cost of hotel amenities.
Enjoy the ocean or sea instead of choosing a hotel for its swimming pool. The resource and environmental cost of certain amenities like swimming pools are high, and an important point of consideration for your ethical honeymoon travel. “If you can do without it, please do! Enjoy the natural sea or ocean, instead,” suggests Irina. “In every corner of the world, you can find hotel properties that care about the local environment and community- do your research and stay at those instead.”
- Posing for selfies with terrified iguanas or wild creatures being hawked by street vendors is not instaworthy. These little beings have been plucked from the wild and are under extreme distress outside of their natural habitat. Not only are they removed from their ecological families, they are also often mishandled, underfed, malnourished, neglected at best, and experience horrific abuse at worst. It fuels the animal trade and is defs not cute.
- Think critically about your motive and your possible impact before going for “township tours”, “slum tours” and the like. You are visiting the homes of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers just like yourself. Be mindful of your interactions in another’s community. Are you inadvertently participating in poverty porn – there to gawk at the spectacle of another’s destitution? Or are you there to help rebuild, form connections and help empower? Look for ways that you can participate in upliftment projects, or support vendors in the local community in a manner that treats community members as your equals. Make an informed decision by asking yourself these questions, and support ethical tour operators should you go this route.
- Steer clear of “Ping Pong shows” and the like performed by daughters, mothers, and sisters just like your own. These shows are linked to sex trafficking and the exploitation of women with limited options. It’s so not sexy. And it’s probably not the best way to celebrate the start of your marriage and potential new family, either. There are lots of other ways to party or enjoy yourself. Dance the night away at an epic club, go ATVing, do a session of sunset yoga, spend your day lazing in the sun with cocktails or mocktails, or explore the local night markets, and come home feeling great about your experience knowing that your visit did no harm.
- When looking for day trips at your destination, avoid attractions that are already under ecological distress. Mass tourism leaves a wake of waste, pollution, site destruction which can devastate many natural habitats. Phi Phi Island in Thailand, the famous location where parts of ‘The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was shot, would see as many as 5000 visitors a day. This decimated coral reefs, making the area uninhabitable for sea life. Local authorities were forced to impose a tourism ban to rehabilitate the area with the help of conservationists. Make sure that your ethical honeymoon travel does not contribute to the destruction of an already fragile ecosystem, and choose trips that support conservation efforts instead.
- Visit or donate to a well-run local charity, sanctuary or community-focused NPO.
Instead of riding on the overworked backs of exhausted, enslaved elephants in Thailand, go for a visit to a true elephant sanctuary where your admission fee helps to cover the cost of feeding and housing these magnificent creatures. It is essential to do proper research before your ethical honeymoon travel and to be highly critical of any organization claiming to be a sanctuary. We’re in deep into the age of greenwashing, where savvy exploiters rebrand their marketing materials to make false claims of rehabilitation. How ethical is the sanctuary you’re visiting?
NEXT: Download this cute + detailed honeymoon packing checklist PDF to pack your bags like a pro!
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