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Responsible Travel

Responsible Travel is about bringing you closer to local cultures and environments.

The Responsible Traveller prefers smaller groups and believes that travelling with respect earns them respect. They don't like being herded about in a large group like nameless faces and understand that travelling in smaller groups makes local people and cultures more accessible. They want deeper meaning, real travel experiences and value authenticity, rather than those created for tourism.

The Responsible Traveller believes that they can grow as individuals through these experiences, and that their trip can make a positive contribution towards conserving global diversity.

If you travel for relaxation, fulfilment, discovery or adventure then Undiscovered India is for YOU!

Undiscovered India supports family-run businesses, local communities and small ventures. We use local drivers, guides, restaurants and local families. This support continues to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to local communities. You can also support local culture and tradition by watching and enjoying local performances and purchasing locally made products.

Before leaving home, learn as much possible about India and Nepal before you visit. Try to learn some of the local language and read about the religion and culture. This will ensure you are well prepared before you leave home.

We ask you to remain open minded about development and poverty in local areas, and respect that the local people may wish to develop economically and gain access to material possessions that we take for granted. A role you can play is to share some of the realities of our western culture, which while may be materially rich is often lacking in spiritually and community awareness. Assist people to achieve a balanced view of development.

Environment and Sustainability

In an age where the opportunity to travel has never been so easy, international travel is no longer a luxury. Tourism is now the world’s fastest growing industry. With this proliferation of travel comes a heavy responsibility on all travellers to ensure that the heritage and environment of those nations we seek to explore does not disintegrate under the rapid influx of new visitors.

Care for the environment as you would do back home. This leaves a positive impression, interaction and education with the locals.

Simple ways to help:

  • Use water filters or purifiers to refill your water bottle.
  • Discourage the hotel from changing towels / bed-sheets each day.
  • While shopping use material bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Walk on existing paths to stop further degradation of soil.
  • Do not feed wildlife - this creates dependencies and aggression among wild animals.
  • Refrain from picking flowers and plants.
  • Smoking is now illegal in public places.

Culture Shock

International and domestic airports can be overwhelming and chaotic at any time of the day or night. Relax and locate the baggage claim. Patience is the key!

  • Several things will strike you upon arrival, the amount of people, traffic and noise.
  • Indians may ask a lot of questions or may unashamedly stare. This is not to be rude but rather out of curiosity.
  • Personal space is a luxury in developed countries, but in a population of 1.2 billion you will experience locals standing close by and using any available space. Relax, locals are comfortable sharing space and should not be viewed as intrusive.
  • Poverty can be confronting at times, but remember there are a large number of programs and charities in place to assist those underprivileged.

Cultural Considerations

The constant mixing of various cultures and traditions has been a prized possession from the beginning of history to conquer and occupy. India is a "country of contradictions", and may even be mistakenly viewed as a hypocritical society. Being sensitive and considerate will be greatly appreciated and ensure an enjoyable trip. A flexible approach, relaxed and fun attitude will help you in all situations.

Local Language and Interaction

Learn a few commonly used Hindi words. This helps break the ice and displays your appreciation for the local language. Show respect and behave modestly - and remember social etiquette is very important in Indian culture.

Temple & Mosque Etiquette

In any religious country like India, it is very polite to ask permission before entering a religious Temple, Mosque, Church or Gurudwara.

  • Removing shoes is mandatory.
  • Always ask before taking photos inside the temple / complex.
  • Your shoulders and legs should be covered at all times.
  • You may be required to cover your head in Sikh temples (Gurudwara).
  • Smoking is prohibited.
  • Never point the sole of your feet and back towards the deity of the temple.
  • Indian women do not enter the temples while menstruating. It is ethical if you follow the same custom.
  • Do not touch the deity.

Social Etiquette

There are 21 official languages spoken India, plus many sub-dialects. However, in most parts Hindi and English is widely used and spoken. Do try to greet everyone in either language and you will be well-received. Smile and greet them by saying 'Namaste' and you will break the ice.

  • Public displays of affection are offensive in Indian culture and should be kept to the privacy of your room.
  • You may find locals are fascinated to the point of staring unashamedly. This is merely curiosity and should not be misconstrued as rudeness. Many locals do not encounter tourists often, but rather see foreigners in the media.
  • Personal questions may be asked by any local, which is not meant to be intrusive or offensive, rather an opportunity to interact with another culture.
  • Burping is considered polite after your meal, which means you have enjoyed the food. Blowing your nose or coughing is considered impolite at the table.

Begging

This is a reality of everyday Indian life. Giving money to beggars is discouraged when travelling as a group.

  • Do not encourage beggars by offering sweets, pens, gifts or giving money This encourages begging and does not address issues of poverty.
  • Giving money to one beggar will encourage other beggars and you will be harassed along with your fellow travelers.
  • Giving leftover food is considered rude and should be avoided.

Donations and Gifts

If you wish to donate, your Group Leader may be able to suggest local projects that Undiscovered India supports. If you wish to donate study materials i.e. pens, note books and other items for children, these are usually best distributed via a school teacher or Group Leader.

  • If you are invited to any family members home, you should bring a small gift i.e. sweets, fruits or small chocolates for the children.

Photography and Video Cameras

Do not take pictures of individuals with wildlife (snake charmers, monkeys etc) or Government or official places.

  • Always ask before taking photos.
  • The best gift you can return to a local is to provide a copy of photos taken.

Local Charities and Programs

Undiscovered India support local charity programs:

  • Education for children (school books, uniforms and teachers).
  • Education for women (computer training, handcraft skills etc).
  • Utilities & Infrastructure (water filters, blankets, sanitation etc).
  • Health Programs.

How can you help support any of the above programs?

You may choose to visit one of the charity programs and this can be arranged at the end of your trip. Undiscovered India can assist that your goods are distributed to a program of choice.

  • Spread awareness among your friends, colleagues, schools and social networks.
  • Donate your old clothes, books or anything left in your backpack / bags that you are not going to take home.
  • Sponsor a child's annual education fee. One year will cost $80USD to $200USD, dependent on year of education.
  • Donate money for sanitation, construction, water filters, blankets etc.

"Remember that no contribution is too small and enjoy your trip"