How can you travel responsibly?

It’s Earth Month! So what better time to talk about sustainable tourism and giving back to the places we love to visit.

At Trafalgar, we partner with TreadRight – a not-for-profit organisation that’s all about caring for the places we travel to. We caught up with Cindy at TreadRight about the great work the charity’s been doing.

Why is sustainable tourism so important?

Trafalgar and TreadRight have been working together since 2008 to give back to the places we visit as part of our trips, supporting projects that help the environment, economy, social and cultural aspects of these destinations. We want them to continue to thrive and grow. It’s the responsible way to travel and contributes to the society.

Eco-tourism is also hugely beneficial to lower the impact on our environment as much as possible.

TreadRight encourages others to do the same by providing tips on how to travel responsibly. Here are some small ways that you can help:

  • Learn a little about the culture, language and religion before travelling
  • Book direct flights to reduce your flight’s carbon footprint
  • Unplug lights and appliances before you leave for your trip

Overall, be aware of your surroundings and those living there.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland - photo by National Trust

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland – photo by National Trust

How does Trafalgar support the communities it visits?

In the UK, there are a number of projects that Trafalgar supports with the National Trust.

At the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Trafalgar’s support has helped build the newly opened sustainable visitor centre, upgrade the surrounding walks and trails and provided an accessible cliff-top walk for families and those with disabilities.

We’ve all seen photos of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, but the National Trust is battling to protect this natural habitat. Donations, including those from Trafalgar and TreadRight, have allowed the National Trust to purchase the last piece of coastline to provide more habitats for species affected by the natural erosion of the cliffs. Trafalgar employees even get involved and help with clean-ups. 

White Cliffs of Dover - photo by National Trust

White Cliffs of Dover – photo by National Trust

So what have Trafalgar and TreadRight been doing for Earth Month?

There have been all kinds of initiatives from the offices around the globe – from litterless lunches, to providing bikes to employees. The Trafalgar office in Canada has even created a vegetable garden in the grounds to provide employees and those in the local area with fresh veg!

Find out more on the TreadRight website or search #TreadRightTakeAction on social media to check out what’s been happening recently. Even better, use the hashtag yourself if you’ve been giving back to your travel destinations! If you haven’t had the chance yet, check out an eco-trip like our Costa Rica Eco Adventure.

Our top guided holiday luggage tips

You’ve found where in the world you want to go, you’ve booked your Trafalgar trip, and you’ve turned your cupboards inside out to piece together your holiday wardrobe. Now it’s time to decide where you’re going to store all of those shorts, tops, dresses and shoes.

Unsure where to start? We have some top baggage tips from our Travel Directors and trusty past travellers to help you lighten your load.

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New Zealand: Maori culture and customs

With such beautiful and seemingly untouched landscapes, you’d never guess that New Zealand has been inhabited for more than 1,000 years.

Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand and they arrived in the country around 1150 A.D. Today, their culture is still deeply ingrained in the country’s identity – villages, towns and cities still embrace Maori names and colonial architecture, and Marae (tribal meeting grounds) still exist across New Zealand.

The remaining Maori people – around 14% of New Zealand’s population – are actively involved in keeping their presence and language alive. We’ve found some of the Maori traditions and customs that still exist today:

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Scotland’s Year of Homecoming

With National Tartan Day in the offing, we thought it was a fitting time to get kilted-up and talk all things Scotland.

This compact country in the United Kingdom is crammed with cultural and natural treasures, and you don’t have to look far to find them. World-famous castles bound by turbulent history, scenery to rival that of New Zealand’s, and some of the coolest cities in Europe.

The Scots are proud of their culture and heritage, and they love to celebrate it – particularly so in 2014. It’s Scotland’s Year of Homecoming; a time to showcase all that’s great about their country.

We’ve put together a timeline of upcoming highlights so you can get a flavour of what Scotland has to offer in 2014.

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Halong Bay: the emerald in Northern Vietnam’s crown

To me, Halong Bay is the jewel in Northern Vietnam’s crown.

Its glistening emerald bay is occupied by an archipelago of 2,000 lushly-vegetated limestone islands, each towering above the calm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect before I arrived in Halong Bay; I know my imagination certainly only stretched as far as the visual beauty I’d seen in photos. But that all changed the moment I climbed aboard my Vietnamese junk boat.

I visited Northern Vietnam during its cooler season, which is between November and March. Some prefer to experience Halong Bay in summer, because its colours are much more vibrant.

My out-of-season trip presented a different perspective; one in which its already extraordinary backdrops were shrouded by a mystical haziness. There were fewer people, too – always a bonus!

Halong Bay in the mist

Halong Bay in the mist

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How to get by (politely) in Scandinavia

Scandinavia’s got a lot going for it: sprawling glaciers, dramatic fjords, intoxicatingly-pure air, quaint wooden churches, uber-chic capitals, and trusty-old IKEA.

Combine all of that with friendly and sophisticated folk, and you won’t be surprised to hear that its kingdoms – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – have all ranked highly in the list of the world’s most prosperous nations.

Norway

Norway

While its people have a reputation for being chilled-out and fancy-free, everyone has their protocols, naturally. I picked up a few little etiquette tips during my journey through Scandinavia that you may wish to follow if you decide to visit sometime soon.

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Foods and flavours of the USA: slice 1

When I travel, food is as much of a draw as the cultural and historical sites. That’s because some of my most treasured travel memories are closely associated with culinary experiences: the never-tasted-before flavours, the unique and extraordinary settings, the people with whom the meal was shared.

When I can’t travel? I work my way around the world through food – whether it’s sampling something new at a local restaurant or by trying my hand at a recipe.

Many countries are defined by food but when it comes to a huge continent like the USA, it’s impossible to pin it down to one particular cuisine. So over the next couple of months, we’re going to give you a flavour of its very different-tasting regions on our own virtual foodie tour.

This week, we’re serving up a mixture of dishes and delicacies from the USA’s western and south-western states: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. We’ve picked out trips where there’s free time for you to try each local speciality, or tried-and-tested recipes you can attempt at home.

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