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Get more out of your trip!

Sustainable tourism is no more complicated than travelling while taking into account the environment, people, nature and culture so that travel remains possible in the future. More and more people are travelling, increasingly the effects of tourism felt on a local level. Shoestring is trying to do its bit to reduce the negative effects as much as possible. Below are some tips that will help you to get more out of your stay whilst preserving the environment so that local people are not adversely effected and travel can continue for years to come; 

What can I do?

Contact with the local population will be more rewarding if you are already aware of the local customs of the country concerned. Realize that you constantly there as a guest in a country where one simply has different manners. This is not abnormal; it is you that will be acting differently! Here are a few tips which will help you get that bit more from your stay:

Act like the locals

It’s important to consider what is required of you, in order to fit in with the locals, before going on your holiday. For example: If you want to visit a mosque, you should cover your arms and legs and women should wear something on their head. Shoes must be left at the entrance. For women, it is often the case that only part of the mosque is accessible. Men wearing shorts run the risk of not being admitted into the mosque. Do not walk in the way of a Muslim praying for example. His connection to Mecca is then broken and his prayer is invalid.

Stick to the dress code

Travellers are normally expected to behave appropriately and dress in the correct way. In Islamic countries, for example, clothing should cover the shoulders and skirts and trousers should at least reach the knee. Taking these things into account shows respect in the fact that you are aware of what country you are traveling in. In Latin American countries it is appreciated if you cover your shoulders when you walk into a church. Women who wear clothes that expose, run the risk of being harassed. Locals think of it as provocative or challenging behaviour. For more information you can read the travel information on our website.


Realize that wages in most countries in which you travel are extremely low and are often not enough to make ends meet. Therefore people will often expect a tip. If you are going to negotiate in a market or in a shop (which in many countries is expected of you and forms part of the culture) then determine in advance what you want to pay and make sure you are satisfied when you part. When shopping and eating out you can best do so with local owners: thus helping out the local population. Don’t give out pens, sweets etc., otherwise the children will think that begging pays off. If you want to give, donate to one of our projects or to another trusted project where the community benefits. Do not give individual gifts, in a school for example. Instead, give everything to the school so that they can distribute the items fairly.

Shoot pictures, but with thought!

The countries you visit are often photogenic, not only because of the nature but also because of the people. When photographing people, you need to do it with respect. Take the time to take a picture and show interest by first greeting and chatting to the person/people involved. People are often more at ease if you show them the photo on the digital screen of your camera. Permission should always be asked if you wish to photograph someone. A positive or a defensive reaction is usually easily recognized. Respect peoples wishes if they do not want to be photographed and remain friendly to them. People can have very good reasons for not wanting to be photographed. They may wonder what happens with their picture. Sometimes religious motives play a role: it is sometimes thought that taking a picture of someone deprives them a piece of their soul. Others would rather not appear at work, unwashed or with dirty clothes in a photo. Some women do not like to be photographed by strange men. It may also happen that people only allow a photo for a fee. Respect this condition and do not commence secretly photographing them from a distance to avoid this.
It is indecent and can lead to aggressive responses.

Think of the light!

Remember to turn off the light, the television/radio and air conditioning (in warm climates) when you leave the room. Do not use excessive water: in many of the countries we visit water is scarce. Our hotels are increasingly taking action to reduce energy consumption. Sometimes, for example, you will be asked to hang your towels out so they do not need to be replaced every day.


All our participants that travel overland on safari (mainly Africa) return home healthy and enthusiastic about their journeys through the many national parks. As we travel and stay in areas where the wild is the "boss", you can make your own contribution to the conservation of fragile ecosystems as well as the safety of yourself and others.

    * If you stand up in a truck/jeep, do it gently as there may be wildlife in the vicinity. They can scare easily at an unexpected movement.
    * The driver will always give priority to wildlife and minimize the chase
    * The driver will always maintain sufficient distance between the vehicle and the wildlife
    * It is forbidden to feed the animals
    * Do not litter. This includes fruit peels or any other food
    * In most game parks water is available at the campsites. However, always keep in mind that this water is very scarce. Don’t take extensive showers during the safaris. Far better postpone this until you are back in the civilized world.

Think carefully when buying souvenirs

The "Think!" campaign is an initiative of IFAW regarding the purchase of souvenirs made from wild animals. The purchase of these souvenirs is a major threat to protected species and/or a lot of animals suffer as a result. Popular carvings and jewellery are made from elephant ivory, products are produced from seashells and land turtles, skins of big cats are manufactured, reptile handbags, leather coasters and lampshades, porcupine quills, coral and shells and countless other products.

Take your rubbish with you!

Litter is a major problem in popular hiking areas. There is pollution because many countries do not have the resources to regularly clean the paths.
Leave nothing behind and take it to a place where you can
discard it properly. Even organic materials like apple cores and banana
peels often takes years to break down!

Stay within the "Beaten Track"

In order to conserve flora and fauna: walking or cycling should be kept to the marked trails. As long as you remain on the path your influence on nature is small. The paths are there to be used as such! Once you go off the paths the footprint you leave behind suddenly becomes a lot bigger!

Excursions at sea

Fortunately, more and more providers of snorkelling and diving excursions are aware of how to respect the delicate marine environments and local guides are often well trained. If this is not the case, please don’t feel inhibited to speak out!
If you go snorkelling or diving, do not touch the fragile coral. They die quickly when touched. Never take a piece of coral as a souvenir either! Wearing a T-shirt whilst snorkelling is a good idea. Not only do you burn a lot less, you also prevent the destruction of the coral through the UV filters in sunscreens. Swimming with dolphins in captivity is not recommended.

What can I do to reduce CO2 emissions?

Obviously, travelling less often will reduce C02 emissions as will opting for vacations closer to home. If you do choose to travel longer distance however then choose a responsible operator.    

Overnight in accommodations that work in a sustainable way. These hotels often use less energy and water. Shoestring selects these hotels where possible.
Be aware that more stars means more energy consuming facilities such as saunas and pools, which is ultimately more harmful to the environment.

Starting from January 1, 2016 Shoestring will compensate standard CO2 emissions of all our tours (both the international flight and the associated land package).

When booking your flight independently, you will normally have the option of making a contribution to compensate the CO2 emission generated from buying your air ticket. This is up to you but of course, every little helps!

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