We can make a difference to travelling to the Nordic Region

Responsible travel is at the heart of 50 Degrees North’s philosophy. Take a glimpse of some easy ways in which you can support local communities while travelling in the Nordic region.

Mari Räsänen, 50 Degrees North's General Manager in Australia, recently shared her thoughts about what it is that she most loves about 50 Degrees North. Beyond the more obvious aspects (Scandinavian workplace practices, home away from home), Mari singled out responsible travel as one key purpose in the company.

We understand responsible travel as offering experiences that 1) bring enjoyment and benefits to everyone involved; 2) respect and benefit local people in the destination as well as their cultures, economies and environment; and 3) facilitate awareness of people’s effect on the places they visit and ways in which you can have a positive effect on them.

In that vein, Mari has offered a few tips for how we can all contribute to responsible travel practices.

1. Visit local art galleries and museums for culture and heritage

All of the countries in the Nordic region boast a multitude of galleries and museums that are well worth a visit. From the grander options in the capital cities to smaller and often more quirky alternatives in the smaller cities and towns, there is truly something for everyone. Even the somewhat odd ones – let say for example the Spy Museum in Tampere, Finland – reveal something about the local / national psyche even if in less explicit ways.

2. Do your shopping in local markets

Let’s face it, local markets are a great, fun way to engage with people in the local community. They are also a great opportunity to purchase artisan crafts, food and much more. For example, most cities in Finland have a Market Hall (see e.g. the Turku Market Hall where locals – especially slightly older generations – meet up and sell their arts, crafts and produce. Eating, buying and spending time in such markets provide a priceless glimpse into the lives of the locals while also contributing to their livelihoods in a very direct way.

3. Purchase responsible souvenirs

In a similar vein, take a moment to dig a little deeper while on the hunt for souvenirs. Rather than buying something mass produced, are you able to find artisans themselves and hear the stories behind the items? Buying souvenirs directly from the maker means that the items have been handmade locally with proceeds staying in the community. For example, if you ever head to Rovaniemi in Finland, go meet the lovely Irene and Ari at Hornwork – it will be a feast for the senses and leave you with not only unique, local handicrafts, but a cultural experience to be remembered. (Note that we can also organise your visit!)

4. Give positive reviews about your local service providers

During (or after) your travels, make the effort of giving due where it is earned by writing positive reviews about the various service providers that helped to make your trip enjoyable. Posting images on Facebook or Instagram, or writing reviews in Facebook, TripAdvisor, or Google reviews go a long way in giving recognition to local businesses and encouraging others to follow in your footsteps.

5. Avoid using single plastic products

The Nordics have a strong culture of recycling and environmental awareness which we encourage you to follow. Get into the habit of bringing a backpack with you wherever you go, so that any kind of planned or unplanned shopping can go into your bag rather than in plastic bags. Also, carry a reusable water bottle with you on your travels – the water in the Nordics is excellent straight from the tap! Lofoten Norway

6. Participate in local volunteer initiatives

Last but not least, consider donating some of your time in flora and fauna conservation or even a beach clean-up while in the destination. For example, the Nordic Coastal Cleanup Nordic Coastal Cleanup is a movement that operates across the Nordics, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland. Contact organisers in any of these destinations, and you may have an opportunity to participate in one of their Nordic Coastal Cleanup Days.

As the well known quote goes: 'Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures.'