Sign the "how not be a travelling douche" pledge
(scroll down completely to sign it)
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.
Not only because traditional customs abroad cannot always respond to the demands of tourists, but also because sometimes the appeal of money in places that know lower conditions of living gets prioritized over the need for sustainability.
Experts in the area of developemental studies have shown that it isn’t always the traveller who pollutes, but also the producer. Higher demands in goods and services produce pressure on producers who at times do not have the necessary means or technology to provide them, and instead choose for a quick-fix solution to it, rather than thinking sustainably often at the cost of local communities already living there as well as the environment.
“If we keep flocking in masses to destinations in which we ask for the same luxuries back home, we are not respecting local customs and savoir-faire and are ultimately collapsing a system which has been rooted there for years and takes slow and intelligent progress to become sustainable.”
Even though we are not a travel agency - but more so offer people personalized suggestions on where to go - our approach to travel is hence influenced by this thought process : the more people we send to places that know very little tourism (which in a way is what gives certain places a "hidden gem" kind of feel) - the more responsible we must be about those we send there.
That is why we want those who ask for our services to sign a pledge advocating for good travel etiquette - a 5 secret places kind of attitude that makes sure that our travellers respect the local customs and the environment and also do something about it.
By making you sign the pledge we are making sure that you are going to visit the hidden gems we suggest to you with a 5 secret places attitude.
The places we offer to visit are first of all always checked to see whether or not they comply with respectful treatment towards workers, animals and the environment.
Secondly, our travellers will have to comply or at least in part try to understand and pursue the following guidelines of our pledge.
Signing the "how not to be a travelling douche" pledge:
17 simples rules you must read
1) All 5secret travellers who receive our secret gems need to agree to not mass-share the information without the express approval of 5secretplaces.com. This means that if you're going to share a picture or an article about your recent visit - live up and represent the value of that place. We´re not saying you´re part of a secret society...But well, we kind of like to think that we are a society who's aim is to make tourism favourable for all and not detrimental! (For publishers contacting us for articles copyright fees apply).
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. Learning a few sentences of the language of the country you will visit is also greatly approved.
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) Travel story-telling etiquette - sure it's a detail - but if you look up travelling-douchebag syndrom on the internet, you will quickly find out that the main reason one comes off as a douche bag is because of the way they share their travel stories. We understand all of it was amazing - but if you bring every single discussions back to you in order to fit in one more story of how amazing your trip was - trust us, interest and modesty is lost easily. Instead try and remain focused on the initial principle of travel - which is connection through experiences - and not boasting. Remain explanatory as much as you remain curious in other people's stories too.
9) 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 resolving to 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 for your stays.
12) When going to countries where haggling a price can be part of the culture : Ask locals first of all what the local 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 or themselves to support. 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) Drink responsably - recent studies have illustrated that there is a scientific explanation as to why groups of tourists - usually travelling by hords of 10 - dressed in flashy colored shirts - possibly contrasting with their newly aquired shrimp-like tan will air around the streets under the influence of alcohol and testosterone - and not giving a f*** about common decency...said no one ever !!
Don´t get us wrong - we love to down shots and cups ourselves - but when abroad - with enough moderation. We ask our community to keep a respectul behaviour. Sure, at the time and after those 8 shots of tequila - jumping in the canals of Venice seemed like a great idea - but the consequences weren´t - not only for yourself but on the rest of the travel community you represent...So please, don´t be a douche - and think of how you´ll look and how you´d like people to treat your own home. Good hosts know how to be good guests.
15) 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.
16) Last but not least - 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. Smokers? Perhaps you´d like to invest in some portable ashtrays for example.
17) Oh yeah...and please...don't 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 peldge, 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.
5 secret places also has the right to refuse to share information with you if deemed that the customer has not signed the pledge and that he or she is not respecting the principles of it by :
sharing massively the information sent without prior consent from us (all texts and descriptions are originals making it therefor liable for copyright on content)
having damaged sites
posting pictures of themselves showing disrespect of the place we suggested.
All people who would like to request our service must FIRST sign the pledge. It is our way of making sure you have read our terms and conditions before accepting our services.
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 ?