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Top RT tips for Latin America

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL GUIDELINES FOR DRAGOMAN TRAVELLERS TO Latin America

1. Before leaving home learn as much as possible about the countries you are visiting - the culture, religion, local rules and values.

2. Learn some language and don’t be afraid to use it. Simple pleasantries will help break the ice. Keep practising. The more you get involved with your holiday, the more you'll get out of it!

3. Learn what is considrered to be appropriate behaviour and body language. Take the time to greet people with some formality before further engagement.

4. Support locally owned businesses, hotels, restaurants and other services. Eat local food and drink local brands and brews. Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where convenient - you'll meet local people and get to know the place.

5. Leave only footprints…take care of the environment as you would your own home. Take out all you take in, especially in areas away from the cities and protected areas such as the Inca Trail. Be sensitive to limited resources like water, fuel and electricity.

6. Avoid plastics. In Latin America, you are offered many plastic bags but unfortunately, in many places they end up as pollution. Take your own bag and say ‘No’ to plastic bags. Please use alternative sources of purified drinking water rather than buying bottled water wherever possible. Disposable-type plastic bottles are not allowed on the Inca Trail.

7. Shop from traditional artisans and for locally made products, helping keep traditional crafts alive. Bargaining is the way in most places. Keep it light and bright and remember, 10 cents to you may be a bowl of potatoes for the vendor!

8. Dress respectfully with an awareness of local standards. Covered thighs and shoulders is the norm in many countries, especially in the rural and mountainous areas or away from capital cities where people are more conservative. Dress modestly particularly at religious sites and check what is suitable as far as swim wear is concerned.

9. Always ask first before photographing or videoing people. Send them back copies of photos to help make it a two-way exchange. Local communities absolutely love it!

10. Be cautious of giving gifts or money to beggars, children and people you have just met. Supporting the community through a local school, clinic or development project may be more constructive.

11. After returning home think how you can support programmes and organisations that are working to protect the welfare, culture and environment of where you’ve been fortunate to visit

12. Be friendly - the traveller who wishes to have a happy and successful trip should keep as calm, cheerful, flexible and friendly as humanly possible. The more you get involved, the more you will get out of your journey. Have fun!

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