The Zero Foot Print Traveler

Trip Planning


What is a '"real traveler?" How should we travel in a foreign country? What attitude should one take when traveling in a foreign land?
The expression is "Don't change a thing, not even a leaf!" I believe that this is the best attitude and approach when traveling. Low or no impact. So don't be hero, take, enjoy fill your glass high and drink deep the well of subcontinent. But don't corrupt it, it doesn't need any help there..avoid interloping.

Back in the early days of backpacking people traveled for a lot longer and cheaper than they do today. If fact simpler. No discount charter flight, it was the long haul.

Backpackers stayed in family homes and interacted with locals because that's all there was. It was sort of couch surfing. Asia is still like this but it is changing fast. Soon it may be lost forever.When people come with more money and demanding bigger and better services this creates a separation between the foreigner and the local. The us and the them. Think how it feels when you struggle with so little and someone comes with so much and flaunts it. Soon the divide grows with stratification. The solution is stay with local families and guest homes as much as possible and avoid the *star* hotel. Support local business and quality guesthouses.

DIY Travel

DIY Travel means not relying on anyone else to make decisions for you.  A mini version of real life. Guided by someone else is like watching a TV program about traveling.


Experience the country and the people on a REAL one to one level, not some fake preplanned tour. Tour operators are destroying the traveler's environment by over commercialization.


DIY Travel means doing research and also enjoying the adventure of  learning by failing. Traveling gives someone a tremendous opportunity to LEARN. This is stifled by some people effort to sell India by the pound.

DIY Traveling means finding rooms, restaurants and bus schedules on your own and more importantly interacting with locals on a one-to-one level.  Isolation yourself within a protective barrier may work in the west but does not jibe in the east.

Are you scared to learn a new language? Are you scared to try and communicate with someone from a different religion, culture or believe system? Don't be, this is the joy of life. Traveling gives you a chance to prove yourself, don't waste it with grubby backpackers tours.


Help Avoid plastics: use recyclable 5 litre jugs for drinking water in India. These cost 35Rs+20Rs deposit. Also if your staying for a week or more get a 20 liter jug just like the ones at home.

If the guest house is burning plastic and rubbish, take the time to complain to the manager by explaining the hideousness of losing your business.

Avoid putting toilet paper down the bog, or it will bung it up! Better learn the soap and water method.

Boycott restaurants or guest houses that are causing destruction of the environment. Such as in Goa, by cutting down rain forest to build those fancy new huts without a septic tank! Or restaurants that pay baksheesh to sets up in the middle of the beach, blocking peoples way.  Also many tourist business burn or dump rubbish in a reckless way.


Many people volunteer by teaching English. But what does this do their culture? Just because it's fun doesn't mean it's right to do on a large scale. Learn their language and their culture, instead of teaching yours. If you want to teach, teach something useful like plumbing, electrician, computers etc.



Don't push or promote your religion or cultural beliefs on others when abroad. Is that what you came for?


Eat local food, produced locally not demand tourist food or import items (beer.) Avoid tuna, swordfish, shark enjoy the local fresh mackerel! Local vegetables will be fresher then fancy out of season vegetables such as palak or gobi.


Utilize local transport as much as possible, a great way to interact with others. A private car and driver are not acceptable.


Stay in family guest houses avoid expensive luxuries that isolates yourself for the locality. Expensive resorts cause huge disruption to local communities, often changing them forever. With wealth brings crime problems. Resorts do damage to the natural coastal lines and the environment.

Remember: leave a country the way you found it: clean, green and still smiling.

Foreigner run businesses

If you want to run a business (work) in India you must have a business visa. What impact does starting a "crepes restaurant" on the local cultural atmosphere?   Foreigners are coming to Goa and opening bigger, better and louder bars and restaurants. They seem to be completely ignorant to the idea that there is local culture present. Do not spend your money with these businesses! You come all the way to India, you will have a much better experience if you go to locally run business. Remember we have a responsibility as guests in India. Not only do foreigner business change the local atmosphere but take money away from India entrepreneurs and business people.


Avoid giving to beggars who target foreign travelers. Give to local organizations instead.

Volunteer work

There is no need for volunteers in India in Nepal. Both countries have high unemployment, so why would they need foreign volunteers? It's a business for NGO's in western countries. It's a loop that makes money for some and it gives what many foreigners demand year after year, the rich to be a volunteer tourism.

Perhaps you want to travel but feel guilty or need an excuse for your parents,'What will you do for six months...?" So they even though they've never been to a country they decided to volunteer their time. Preventing the evil of sloth, just the lull of altruism. Volunteer-ism has become a industry over the years by the trekking agencies. 

Go to India and Nepal and learn about the countries. Don't worry about 'helping'  or interloping, no one is asking for it.

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0 # pirate50 2011-07-27 21:07
Good stuff. I knew this one American guy he made herbal thrill pills in their NGO. They gave them to local children. lol.
0 # mambeach 2011-11-18 02:15
who cares? let's party!

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