Each time you travel with us, you make a difference. We keep our groups small and do things the local way to reduce our footprint while ensuring an awesome grassroots adventure for you. Plus we’re making a contribution to Friends-International for every trip you book!
What happens when you book with Geckos?
Meet our new social enterprise partner, Friends-International
This year, Geckos is working with Friends-International to give back to the communities we take our travellers. For every trip booked, we’ll make a contribution at no extra cost to you.
Friends-International is a leading social enterprise saving lives and building futures for marginalised kids and young people – as well as their families and communities – across the world.
With our support, Friends-International will be able to provide more youth with training in a range of vocations. Vocational training contributes towards ending the cycle of poverty by reintegrating marginalized youth into society as productive, skilled and empowered citizens. 100% of students who have finished their training with Friends have secured jobs.
9 easy ways to travel responsibly
1. Respect the local culture and customs
Meeting with the locals and experiencing foreign cultures are often trip highlights for Geckos travellers. However just as at home, respect, consideration and an open mind are essential for these interactions to be mutually enjoyable. Be sure to follow local customs and dress appropriately (leave the short shorts at home if you’re heading to a temple or into a local community). If in doubt, ask your local leader.
2. Travel local
Getting around the local way is fun and means you leave less of a footprint. When you travel with Geckos, we get you from A to B on public transport wherever possible, and stay in locally run accommodation where we can, so you’ll be putting more money into the local economy and reducing your travel footprint at the same time. Win!
3. Animal welfare
If someone comes up and offers you the chance to ride an elephant, gawk at a monkey on a chain, take a selfie with a tiger, etc – basically anything the animal wouldn’t typically be into in the wild – that animal is probs being exploited. We discourage ALL our passengers from participating in anything that exploits wild or domestic/working animals. In 2014, our sister company Intrepid Travel banned elephant rides – we’re 100% with them on that and did the same. We also recently joined forces with the Blood Lions crew, so we’ll never knowingly work with anyone offering lion walks, cub petting or any other interactive activities that contribute to the cycle of breeding and exploitation of lions in Africa. Check out our animal welfare guidelines if you're ever unsure.
4. Be green
Kermit the frog might disagree, but it’s actually pretty easy being green when you travel. Remember to say no to plastic bags (pick up a cute tote bag to remember the trip instead) and BYO reusable water bottle to refill when you can. Challenge yourself to eat seasonably (as if we need an excuse to eat mangos all day). Leaving your room for a bit? Switch off the lights and the aircon behind you. If you’re hiking, make sure you stick to the trail and take all your rubbish with you (cigarette butts included); if you’re snorkelling or caving, don’t touch the coral or rocky bits. Travel with Geckos and we’ll offset the carbon emissions from your trip into certified renewable energy projects. Yesss.
5. Shop local
Spend your cash locally – restaurants, cafes, markets, awesome knitted ponchos – and you’ll put money directly into the local economy. Looking for some cool souvenirs to take home? Buy locally made things from traditional artisans, not stuff imported from China (unless you’re, y’know, in China). If bargaining is the local way, go for it, but remember that a small amount of money to you could mean a lot more to the seller. Ask your leader for guidance, and remember to share the love around at different market stalls as a group.
6. Resist the beggars
Seeing people fighting poverty in any part of the world is tough going. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the conditions some people – particularly children – live in, and feel kinda guilty about your own relatively comfortable life. It’s hard, but try to avoid giving gifts or money to beggars; while it may feel good, it often locks them into a cycle of poverty. Instead, do some research and support local non-government organisations, like our partner Friends-International, who are working to tackle the issues at hand (and you know exactly where your money’s going).
7. Avoid orphanages
Newsflash: kids aren’t tourist attractions. We totally get that travellers wants to help people – especially kids – but visiting orphanages can perpetuate a system where children are separated from their families and, in some cases, abused. UNICEF research says that up to 75% of kids in orphanages in Nepal and Cambodia aren’t actually orphans – they’re often from poor families who are ‘sold’ into orphanages because their parents think it’ll give them better opportunities. For more info on orphanage tourism, check this out.
8. The ups and downs of voluntourism
Giving back to communities through volunteering programs while travelling can seem like a really great thing, but it pays to do your research – volunteering abroad can actually have a negative impact. We don’t offer any voluntourism on our trips, but we support a stack of grassroots projects through our not-for-profit, The Intrepid Foundation. Find out more about the ups and downs of voluntourism here.
9. Think before you shoot (your camera, that is)
Whether you’re packing a smartphone or fancy SLR, you can’t just go around snapping whoever and whatever you like – always ask before taking someone’s picture (just lifting up your camera and a flashing a thumbs up will often do the trick). Avoid giving locals money for their photograph if you can, as this can encourage begging. Instead, chat to them or ask your local leader to find out a bit about their life – this can result in a better experience AND a better picture!
10. Spread the good word
Know someone about to head off on a round-the-world backpacking adventure, or even a two-week jaunt through Asia? Fill them in on what it means to be a responsible traveller! They’ll thank you for it (and so will THE WORLD!).