Sign the "don't be a travelling douche" pledge

(scroll down completely to sign it)

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Look at that view...
Isn't it beautiful ? And wouldn't you like to preserve it for the future?

As travel has become more and more accessible over the years, the more frequented routes traced by our travellers abroad have unfortunately left quite a few marks on the environment and the conservation of local customs.

How many of you have not walked down prestine beaches and seen the sea wash off tons of garbage by the shore? How many of you have gotten annoyed by places packed with tourists who only come to take picture and then leave? How many of you have gotten angry that the offer of a pizza is sometimes more common than a local dish? If you haven't noticed it or gotten annoyed with it, you may be suffering from severe travelling douche syndrome.

2030 is expected to see a tourist arrival forecast of 1.8 billion people around the world (source : World Tourism Organization). And the greatest challenge for the tourism sector is to shape this growth so it can contribute to environmental conservation, resource efficiency and cultural preservation while creating inclusive economic opportunities.

So far governments, NGO's, international organizations and businesses have been working positively towards this mission. But we are forgetting the most important contributor of all : you.

We believe that it is also up to the traveller to show the right attitude in order to help conserve the very same "hidden gems" they have the opportunity to enjoy.

That is why we want those who ask for our services to sign a pledge to make sure they have understood our values and will adhere to it. We want to make sure that travelling is done sustainably and with a good conscience, so that what we uncover for our travellers remains "secret" for the years to come. 

Taking the pledge :

Here are 16 rules to follow in order not to be considered as a "travelling douche"

1) All 5secret travellers agree to not mass-share the information on social media without the express approval of the authors i.e us. If you need content for your blog/website please mention it in your demand - copyright may apply. But we are trying to keep spread of information at a minimum.

2) All spots should remain the same after each visit. 5secretplaces is not held accountable for visitors destroying the places or for any harm the visitors may encounter once on the spot (risk areas are always mentionned when sending out the informations). But please do NOT take anything from the sites you visit. Memories should stay in our heads, not in our pockets.

3) Asking permission before entering anywhere that is (or isn't) public property is considered proper travel etiquette.

4) Respect and research the local customs of the areas you travel to (in terms of clothing, eye contact attitude etc) or ask a local (or us!). If you would like to live your experience fully, you first need to integrate yourself into the population you are visiting. And for that a quick glance around how people dress and adopting the style is always a good start.

5) Show interest, respect and gratitude to the workers and volunteers of the places you visit - from the ticket receptionist to the cleaning lady - all of them contribute to making your stay and visit possible.

6) While curiosity may always spark surprise, refrain yourself from pointing at things and mocking people or customs. An open-mind towards different cultures comes with respect and acceptance.

7) Take pictures only if you are allowed or invited to - and when doing so - take the time to also ask yourself why and how you are taking pictures; are you taking pictures for yourself? Or because your sole intention is to boast on social networks? Remember to climb montains not so that the world can see you but so that you can see the world...

8) Consider travelling for long periods of time rather than short as well as off-season. When wanting to pack everything in one trip, you are doing sometimes more harm than good. Express-tours of sites often do not benefit the local populations and moreover give you a very biased vision of the culture you are exploring. Some very good websites priorise tours given by locals, and are often cited in our suggestions. The same goes for transportation, often the fastest mode of transportation is the most polluting.

10) Mingle with locals and show curiosity for their culture. You would be surprised how you yourself would open up to someone if they became interested in your culture. The act of sharing that knowledge is what gives travelling its merit.

11) Whenever you can - choose local and green accomodation. And if you are using search engines such as Airbnb - make sure your are in contact with a host who is local. Most of all, we suggest eco-responsible lodging or couchsurfing (which is free by the way!).

12) When going to countries where haggling a price can be part of the culture, ask the locals first of all what the price for things are in order to have a reference price and also research why they might have that price. Second, when haggling, always be courteous and respectful. Finally, when haggling a price - choose your battle : your seller may seem like he or she is trying to profit from your position, but at the end of the day he or she also has a family and themselves to feed. Your goal is not to eliminate their profit, but to come to a mutual agreement over a price.

13) Watch out for what you put on your skin ! Travelling also implies other climates we are not always accustomed to. Luckily for that, travellers seem to be well aware on how to adapt - from sunscreen to mosquito repelants. Before buying any of these though, make sure to research enough about the products you bring abroad and if they are not harmful to the environment. Research has shown that some creams or sprays that contain specficially oxybenzone and octinoxate wash off the skins of snorklers and become harmful for ourselves but also on the long run on coral reefs and the general quality of water.

14) Act and think local not global - If you´re visiting a city you´ve never been to for instance don´t look for the first McDonalds - instead dive into where locals go - and if  you don´t know where that is - go find out.

15) Don’t litter ! It takes but a small gesture (locating a trashcan and throwing your things in it) to prevent further pollution - and stoping others from doing the same. And if you're a smoker, how about taking the habit of using portable ashtrays?

16) Oh and last but not least, not wear socks in your sandals...It hurts everyone's eyes.


Then some legal stuff :

  • By accepting to request and read the information about the places that have been sent to you, you accept to act like a sustainable traveller.
  • In the unlikely event that a place we suggested no longer exists, refunds will be attributed in the form of same value-coupons - adequate proof of the non-existence of the places should be sent by email.
  • As a 5 secret traveller who has signed the pledge, we also ask you to be part of the adventure and warn 5secretplaces in case you have seen any alterations to the spot. Those changes will be noted and added to the database so that our next travellers can be advised of it and that we can also advice the local authorities responsible for the conservation and up-keeping of the place.
  • 5 secret places also has the right to refuse to share information with you if you have not signed the pledge and if we notice the following innapropriate behaviour :
    •  habit of sharing massively the information sent without prior consent from us (all texts and descriptions are originals making it therefore liable for copyright on content)
    • having damaged sites
    • posting pictures of themselves showing disrespect of the place we suggested.


We recommend that you keep these rules in the back of your mind as a sign of willingness to educate yourself but also others.

So, now that you have read all this - are you ready to start your journey ?