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5 Reasons Why Travel Companies are the Perfect Responsible Travel Companion

As part of our special ‘mini blog-series’ on responsible tourism we invited the team from Buffalo Tours to give us some more insight into the topic from a travel companies point-of-view. They have a he focus on responsible travel and helping to make sure the future of the countries they travel through are maintained while also giving their guests a fantastic experience.

Karen Hewell is a part of the Buffalo Tours travel team, a travel company that has operated tours to Cambodia and beyond in Southeast Asia for over 20 years. She works with the team to write about and share with aspiring globetrotters the best that Asia has to offer, and how her team can help travelers get there… responsibly!


By Karen Hewell

If you’re reading this, it goes without saying that you’re a big advocate for responsible travel. You’re the type of traveller who spends an extra hour researching each of your destinations for activities that support local initiatives. You’re the kind of person who skips the chain restaurants and heads for the café owned and operated by an NGO instead.  You’re the sort of visitor that won’t spend your money on a souvenir that wasn’t produced sustainably. Needless to say, if you’ve found yourself on the Phare blog, making your travel dollars count toward something bigger is probably one of your top priorities.

There are plenty of travellers that head to Southeast Asia with that same priority in mind. Just like you, they do their very best to make travel decisions in line with their values. But even with the best of intentions, choosing the most responsible travel activities in Cambodia and beyond can be especially difficult. Why? Because in Southeast Asia, sometimes information is hard to find and even harder to understand!

That’s where the experts come in. Travel companies are in the perfect position to find and partner with organizations that are working to improve their local communities. In the end, travel experts take the guesswork out of responsible travel. We like to think of it as creating itineraries that are as life-changing and transformative for local communities as they are for you!

So when it comes to making your travels more responsible, how can a travel company make a difference? The ways are plenty, but these are the five biggest reasons a travel company could be the best responsible travel companion you’ve ever had!

  1. We have the right resources at our fingertips.

Google search might be the best thing that ever happened to travel planning, but even the most extensive internet research has its drawbacks. After all, sometimes finding the right information hidden within 3 million search results isn’t exactly feasible. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’re likely not to find it.

Thankfully, the resources that are available to travel companies go way beyond Google search – and travel experts know how to use them. We have the luxury of on-the-ground travel teams that are constantly on the hunt for more responsible travel activities, and their information is almost always more reliable than a simple Google search. Although doing your own responsible travel research is important even when you’re working with a travel expert, capitalizing on our resources as well as your own is a great way to get the most accurate information possible.

  1. We have the luxury of time.

The bane of every traveler’s existence is limited time – limited time to get from A to B, limited time to experience a culture, and most of all, limited time to plan an exciting and responsible itinerary. Travel companies, on the other hand, are pretty good at making the most of the time that goes into travel planning. That’s because we get to skip the basics and get right to the details of creating a journey that’s tailored to fit you and your values. After all, we’ve spent hundreds of working days creating just such itineraries, so we’ve got the basics down pat.

And when it comes to finding the people that are worthy of your responsible travel dollars, travel companies are your best friend. While most travelers’ research is limited by the days or hours they have before arriving in a destination, we can spend months – or even years – vetting the businesses and organizations we work with. So when you choose a travel destination, we can provide choices for activities that have already gone through the lengthy vetting process. By letting us narrow down the list, you get to enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that whichever activity you choose, your money will be spent in a way that you can be proud of.

  1. We’re a stone’s throw away.

Part of what makes locally-grown travel companies like ours so special is where we came from. Headquartered in the countries they operate and staffed by a team of both local and international travel experts, local travel companies are quite literally on the doorstep of our partner organizations. That means we can get a clearer picture of what our partners are doing to make their work more responsible – by simply showing up to see it for ourselves!

Plus, with vested interest in improving the communities that we call home, we can confidently say that we are especially passionate about making travel in Southeast Asia more sustainable.

  1. We’re all about routine check-ups – for our partners and ourselves

When it comes to responsible travel, the key to success is consistency. Any organization can start out with all the right operations and values in place, but without routine “check ups”, it’s easy for some of those important initiatives to fall by the wayside.

That’s just one of the many ways travel companies keep responsible travel initiatives fresh and timely. While simple Google research might highlight the ways an organization was helping a local community a few years ago, we touch base with our partners regularly to make sure their operations are benefitting their communities in the way they need it now.

Plus, we’re always renewing our own responsible tourism guidelines to make sure we’re doing the very best work we possibly can in our destinations. So, while it might be tough for you to stay on top of all of those new trends in responsible travel, it’s just part of our job as travel experts.

  1. Our travel experts are the best in the business.

Let’s face it – travel planning is a fine art. Between buying plane tickets, booking hotels, choosing daily activities and finding the very best places to visit, you’d be lucky to find a spare minute to go ‘above and beyond’ in your travel research. Logistics alone can sometimes make travel planning seem more frustrating than it’s worth – which doesn’t bode well for travelers hoping to put in the time and effort to make their trip as responsible as possible.

Having years of experience – and the right tools and tricks at your disposal – makes a big difference when it comes to building a great itinerary. Travel experts that work for tour companies like ours are the gold standard when it comes to travel planning. They have the time and expertise to create itineraries from scratch while putting in the extra effort to make them unique. They’ll know how to answer your questions about responsible travel in your destinations simply because they’ve been creating journeys through those areas for years. Couple that with their passion for community-oriented travel, and you’ve got yourself the perfect travel research companion.

If creating the perfect responsible travel itinerary is in your to-do list this year, consider doing it alongside a travel and tour company. It might just be the best investment you can make in your own experience, as well as the communities you’ll visit. Whether you’re filling in the gaps of your travel itinerary or looking to create the perfect itinerary for your trip through Cambodia, your best bet for making every step of the journey count toward the greater good is making a travel company your travel companion!

Buffalo Tours operates in 11 Southeast Asian destinations, including Cambodia. As an official travel partner of Phare, the Buffalo team shares a commitment to making travel to Cambodia and beyond more responsible every day. Check out their Cambodia tours and Siem Reap Phare Circus experience, Vietnam and Cambodia itineraries and other multi-country tours.


Read more about Shinta Mani and Babel Guesthouse and their approaches to responsible tourism

Find out why Phare, The Cambodian Circus is a great example of ‘helping leave the country a better place.’