World Tourism Day: 6 tips for how to be a better traveler

Whether you're traveling to or from the Czech Republic, here's how to leave a smaller footprint while enjoying a more authentic experience.

Marcus Bradshaw

Written by Marcus Bradshaw Published on 27.09.2021 19:00 (updated on 27.09.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Sustainable travel asks travelers to sacrifice a small amount of convenience and make decisions that will have positive impacts on communities and are kinder to the environment. Former Prague tour guide Marcus Bradshaw explains:

Use the OTA sites to help you plan your trip, but always book directly. 

Online travel agencies (OTA) have developed great tools to help us research our travel plans, we just need to be savvy in how we use them. Use sites like booking.com, TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide as a way of getting a feel for what your destination has to offer, then follow up by going to the local accommodation or activity’s own website. Be aware that while OTAs offer convenience to the customer, they charge commissions of up to 30% to the providers and they subject them to punitive cancellation policies. 

Ensure that the money spent on a tour or activity remains in the local area. 

A good tour guide can completely transform your experience of a place, and a great tour at the start of a trip can help you better understand a place and better set you up for the rest of your stay. Tour guides were one of the professions worst affected by the pandemic, and your thoughtful support can help guides regain their livelihoods in 2021. It’s really important to book a tour guide directly, rather than going through a reseller. That way, the guides get to hold on to a larger share of the proceeds, and more of your money enters the local economy. 

Stay in a small local hotel, rather than a chain hotel or a “bad airbnb”. 

The place that you rest your head at night can have a huge effect on the local community. Small, family-run hotels are the way to go. The service is often friendlier and more personalised than in a larger hotel, and they provide employment in the local area. Again, it’s important to book directly, rather than through a reseller. Often it’s worthwhile to pick up the phone and call the hotel directly. They will usually offer a better or matching rate than the reseller, and they will appreciate that you booked directly and saved them the large commission fees. 

Share a home with an Airbnb host 

There are “good airbnbs” and “bad airbnbs”. A good airbnb is a place where the host lives full time, and where they welcome paying guests into their home. Staying in a good airbnb is a terrific way to travel. This promises a unique experience, both for the guest and the host, as the guest lives in the host’s home for a few days, and both the guest and the host have the opportunity to trade stories and learn from each other.

On the other hand, a bad airbnb is a property in which no one actually lives, but which functions as a permanent vacation rental. These bad airbnbs are very detrimental to a local community. They upset neighbours, they push people out of residential areas, and by taking up the housing stock, they cause rents to soar. If you don’t like the idea of sharing your space with a host, then stay in a hotel. 

Don’t just take an uber. Use public transport instead. 

When you’ve arrived in an unfamiliar place, it can be tempting to just get an uber as the easiest way between A and B. Although it’s convenient, when you’re stuck in the back of the car, you miss out on the life of the place that you’re visiting. Give yourself a bit more time to get to your destination, and take public transport instead. Take a look at the people around you. Look at the way that they interact with each other. It will give you a good idea of the quality of local services, and a glimpse into the everyday life of the local people. 

Don’t fly. Take the train or bus instead. 

This is perhaps the most difficult change for us to make, especially for the Ryanair Generation who are so used to hopping on a flight with a carry-on in hand. If we are serious in our commitment to tackle climate change, then we must reduce the number of flights that we take and change our expectations of how long it will take us to get to the places that we wish to travel to. The good news is that train travel has about 10% of the emissions of flying, which allows for more frequent train trips. 

Although lacking in high-speed connections, the Czech Republic’s rail network is excellent. There is good connectivity to neighbouring countries, as well as destinations further afield. For a guide to planning international train travel from the Czech Republic, check out Czech section on the Man in Seat 61.

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