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Travel tips

10 responsible travel experiences you can have when you book a guided tour

May 10, 2022 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

Travel has always been about more than just “seeing a place.” At EF Go Ahead Tours, we believe that the travel community should help make the world better. That’s why we’re committed to giving back to the local communities that you visit with us on tour. Whether that’s voluntourism, sharing a locally-sourced meal in a family’s home, or shopping at a cooperative that supports marginalized women, we go the extra mile to help support local communities while traveling on tour.

three boys playing drums africa

1. Visit a community helping orphaned children in Zimbabwe

The power and beauty of Zimbabwe’s thunderous Victoria Falls, the greatest curtain of falling water in the world, is awe inspiring. And more than enough reason to make the trek to Africa. But this incredible continent is home to more than just stunning landscapes and substantial wildlife. It is home to heart-wrenching stories about orphans, the devastation of HIV/AIDS, and hunger. Responsible tourism cannot solve these problems, but it can shine a light on them. And by visiting organizations that are at the forefront of the solution, traveling with us can help fund their efforts.

Our Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari tour visits the Rose of Charity Organization in the town of Victoria Falls. Rose of Charity helps improve the quality of life of local children, their families, and local communities. Founded in response to the growing number orphaned by HIV/AIDS, their mission has expanded beyond simple housing and food to provide education and empowerment for the girls of two rural areas. Tourism revenue contributes much-needed funds and its absence during the pandemic was a struggle for Rose of Charity. Now that we have been able to resume visits, we look forward to again contributing to their cause.

Experience it on tourWitness wildlife—and charitable works—at their finest →

women rolling out dough for turkish pancakes

2. Meet the women of Nar Kadin, a collective that provides culinary employment

On our Grand Tour of Turkey, our small group Adventure Tour stops along the Aegean coast in the city of Edremit to visit Nar Kadin, a collective that provides culinary employment opportunities to marginalized women. Tourism is critical to their mission of providing life-changing employment to local women. Nar Kadin also prepares them with essential training, including entrepreneurship, hygiene, and using locally sourced ingredients to make handmade pies, noodles, baklava, and cookies. You’ll get to see how the women create the local pastries and have an opportunity to sample their work.

When we discover a movement for good among the beauty of the land and ancient architecture, like Nar Kadin, we make sure to support it. The benefits to the community last long after we depart a destination. Nowhere is this more important than in regions of the world where marginalized women struggle to support themselves. Turkey, where the cultures of two continents collide, is a picturesque land and magical for tourists to visit.

Experience it on tour: Meet the women of Nar Kadin, a collective that provides culinary employment opportunities →

acapella group singing south africa

3. Attend a musical performance by young singers bringing hope to troubled communities

After a day exploring the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope, our South Africa: A Journey of Discovery tour enjoys a performance by the Major Voices South African Choir. This talented a cappella group, comprised of local young men, performs Afro-gospel, jazz, and Isicathamiya (a singing style that originated from the South African Zulus), all mixed with dance. Born of a vision to use music to empower and motivate their community against crime, unemployment, and drugs, this youth choir has positively influenced their communities and become a symbol of hope through their musical expression. Travelers also learn about the group’s mission to give youth community members an opportunity to be involved in music and the arts.

Supporting local communities while traveling is a critical element of our Responsible Travel initiatives, along with encouraging sustainability and helping preserve local cultures. We call our South Africa tour “A Journey of Discovery” for good reason. No other destination offers such a spectacular combination of scenery, cities, and amazing wildlife sightings. One day you’re out on the savanna, spying on leopards and lions on this small group Adventure Tour; the next, you’re sipping a crisp chenin blanc and feeling the breeze off the Indian Ocean. But this remarkable trip also allows us to support this equally remarkable local initiative.  

Experience it on tour: Enjoy a performance by the Major Voices South African Choir→

kava ceremony fijian men

4. Immerse yourself in a traditional Fijian kava ceremony

Happiness and Fiji seem to go hand in hand. Those white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and endless days of tropical weather have a lot to do with it. But it’s the welcoming, friendly spirit of the Fijian people that makes this one of the happiest places you’ll ever visit. “The Fiji experience was fantastic!” said traveler Janice. “Everything from our guides, the food, the accommodations, and the excursions.” There’s no better way to catch the happy vibes in Fiji than to immerse yourself in a local custom.

On our Highlights of Australia & New Zealand tour, we offer an extension to Fiji that includes a visit to the village of Viseisei (possibly the site of the first village in Fiji). Following custom, your tour director will offer a small gift to the village. Then you’ll be welcomed by the chief and villagers to participate in a kava ceremony, a ritual held in every village. Kava is a traditional, non-alcoholic Fijian drink made from the ground root of the piper mythisticum—a type of indigenous black pepper plant. Kava is consumed on special occasions to welcome guests, including travelers like you! Kava has a relaxing, serene effect. A “happy” effect, if you will. Fijians often serve kava to settle an argument or to make peace between villagers. The true kava experience can only be found by participating in the revered ceremony.

Experience it on tourGet a taste of Fiji tradition and culture →

hand weaving in peru

5. Visit a textile cooperative run by Quechuan women

The quaint village of Chinchero in Peru's Sacred Valley is famous for the colorful stalls of the open-air Chinchero Market, where you can shop for the village’s famous textiles. Incans believe Chinchero is the birthplace of the rainbow. (You may agree after experiencing the kaleidoscope of colors in the market!) Here, you’ll find Balcon del Inka, a local textile cooperative run by Quechuan women. On our A Week in Peru: Lima, Cuzco & Machu Picchu tour, you’ll watch as the artisans demonstrate their traditional weaving, spinning, and dying techniques on both alpaca and sheep yarn. You can even try your hand at spinning on the loom and buy hand-spun textiles to support the community. These artisanal pieces make great, easy-to-fit-in-your-luggage souvenirs!

“If you haven't traveled to Peru, you must!!!” said traveler Cara. “The people are so friendly and inspiring. We left Peru with such a deep appreciation for their culture and history.” 

Experience it on tourWatch how local women weave—and support themselves with—beautifully dyed textiles →

women with trashy bags in ghana

6. Visit Trashy Bags Africa, a social enterprise that makes up-cycled, eco-friendly bags

The coastal West African country of Ghana is home to giant swallowtail butterflies, leopards, and hippos. While it has plenty of wildlife, especially in its national parks, Ghana is lacking in safe drinking water in its urban areas. As a result, heat-sealed polyethylene plastic bags filled with “pure water” have become very popular. Discarded after use, the bags have created a huge environmental problem. Enter the social enterprise Trash Bags Africa, whose network of paid workers has collected over 30 million plastic sachets off the streets since their startup in 2007. 

Their work is much more than simply collecting the plastic trash; they upcycle it. The plastic is cleaned and stitched into fashionable shopping bags, backpacks, messenger bags, tote bags, and more. Each is designed in-house by a member of their team. On our Ghana: A Cultural Journey from Accra to Cape Coast, you’ll visit Trashy Bags Africa to learn how the organization offers employment and skill building opportunities for locals, see how they make the eco-friendly bags, and shop for the eye-catching, up-cycled items. In a region where there is a lack of recycling initiatives and waste management infrastructure, Trash Bags Africa is a big step in the right direction.

Experience it on tour: Learn how a social enterprise turns trash into eco-friendly, useful bags →

lady cooking at agroturismo in tuscany

7. Eat, drink, and sleep in an agriturismo to support small, family-run farms

While staying in handpicked hotels on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour is one of the great perks of traveling with Go Ahead Tours, sometimes we purposely forego hotels in the name of responsible tourism. Agriturismos, or farm stays, offer two great arguments for doing so. First, staying in a region outside the city allows our groups to avoid hotel stays where overtourism is a common theme. Second, agriturismos are, for the most part, small family-run suppliers where we may be reserving the entire property. Being patrons of this type of supplier makes a more direct economic impact on locals, as opposed to profiting a corporate hotel chain.

Your stay at the Tuscan agriturismo benefits you, as well as the host farm. During your free time, you can enjoy relaxing walks through the grounds, wine and olive oil tastings, bicycle and farm tours, and learn to craft Tuscan cuisine during an included cooking class. The three-course dinners you eat feature food grown right at the farm and wine from local vineyards. Chianti never tasted so delightful as when shared around the farm table with fellow travelers!

Experience it on tourWitness the passion behind the creation of northern Italy’s meats, cheeses, oils, and wines →

Whakaewarewa Village Geyser New Zealand

8. Learn from the Māori how they preserve their natural resources

For centuries, the Māori have lived in harmony with the boiling mud, hot springs, and geysers in New Zealand’s Whakarewarewa Valley. Whakarewarewa translates to “where the gods breathed fire,” and the indigenous Māori used the geothermal hot pools to develop a cooking style known as hāngi, that is still in use today. The springs are one of the few places in New Zealand where Māori control their own natural resources, so they're dedicated to preserving the spring for future generations.

Your visit matters because tourism helps the Māori sustain the Whakarewarewa community and their local ways of life. When you add an excursion to Whakarewarewa Village on our guided tour of Australia & New Zealand, you’ll learn all about the Māori technique of hāngi, using steam, hot rocks, and cloth to cook food inside a manmade hole in the soil. You’ll also enjoy the delicious results! After your dinner, the ancient rituals continue with a kapa haka performance which combines hake (posture dance), waiata-a-ringa (action songs), and waiata koroua (traditional chants).

Experience it on tourExplore the traditions of the Māori people →

Hand making tortillas over open fire

9. Discover how a women’s cooperative preserves ancient Mayan culture

Combine adventure with helping to sustain the traditions and culture of local Mayan culture. When you travel on our A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests tour, you’ll explore ancient Mayan culture and play a role in preserving it. Nestled along the Caribbean Sea in the northeastern corner of Central America, the tiny nation of Belize is home to archaeological sites once at the center of Mayan civilization. And while its white sand beaches, lush rain forests, and stunning Mayan ruins will wow you, local efforts to sustain the ancient culture will touch you deeply.

One of those efforts is the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative, which works to conserve the ancient Mayan culture that has existed in the region for millennia. The cooperative is located in the tiny village of San Antonio, a village mainly inhabited by Mayan people. Travelers learn about local Mayan life, both past and present, and also participate in hands-on Mayan basket-making techniques and a cooking lesson on how to make tortillas over a fire. All proceeds from your visit go directly to the San Antonio Women's Cooperative, which supports the local Mayan community. It’s just one way we help support local communities while traveling.

Experience it on tourDive into Belize’s Mayan history and culture →

Mezcal tasting Oaxaca Mexico

10. Enjoy lunch with an Oaxacan family in their home

Lifelong learning is one of the biggest benefits of exploring the world beyond your own borders. When you journey with Go Ahead Tours, you’ll help support local communities while traveling. Along the way, you’ll learn about the importance of local production and heritage. One of the most meaningful ways you can learn about another culture is by spending time with locals and participating in their daily lives and rituals. While that kind of experience can be difficult to arrange on your own, we make it a point to incorporate whenever possible into our tours.

You’ll have that opportunity on our Highlights of Mexico: Oaxaca to Mexico City tour. On this small group Adventure Tour through Mexico, you’ll discover a country of strong traditions, rich history, and memorable flavors. You’ll get a taste of those memorable flavors by sitting down to a multi-course lunch with an Oaxacan family in their home. After meeting the family, you’ll enjoy a welcome drink of mezcal, tequila, or beer with some antojitos (light snacks) from Oaxaca. The family will explain the dishes you’ll be eating and show you how they are made. Don’t be shy about offering to help cook—they’ll welcome it! This win-win visit will educate you about the Oaxacan way of life and provide a local family with welcome income.

Experience it on tour: Try local ingredients and enjoy lunch with an Oaxacan family at their home →

Responsible travel
About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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