Responsible travel from the dentist’s chair (nearly)

A trip to the dentist isn’t exactly the stuff personal travel blogs are made of.

But thanks to the poor patient ahead of me (whose time in the dentist’s chair became a more protracted affair than anticipated), I was given a few extra minutes to peruse this month’s edition of the National Geographic Traveller magazine, which was lying neatly in the waiting room.

And the idea of an Urban Adventure caught my eye. I thought it worth a mention here, in case you’re considering a city weekend break (or adventure) over the winter (like me). Read on if you’d like to know the city nitty-gritty from locals who are familiar with all the backstreets and shortcuts of wherever you’d like to go.

Shortlisted as a finalist in the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015, the coolly named Urban Adventures ( offers alternative guided tours by local people in cities all over, and promises to keep it local – using locally owned infrastructure, making local partners and helping to build and sustain local businesses. As they say: #localsknow.

The figures: set up 6 years ago, they now have 833 guides in 128 cities across 84 countries. 13,769 litres of beer have been consumed, 1,120 meals have been eaten with local families, and more than $10 million has been put into local economies. Not bad.

What’s on offer? Lots. You can sample Turkish hospitality by joining a family for dinner in Istanbul. Or go on a tapas trail in Barcelona. Take advantage of a Marrakech local’s haggling know-how. Bike on a Brazilian beach. Or (I like this one) visit the Cape Town township of Imizamo Yetho for a 7-hour tour with local young woman, Nandipha. She’ll introduce you to “walkie-talkies” (chicken’s beaks and feet), and the NGO she runs for teenaged girls, the Sistahood Girls Club.

I’m currently plotting and planning our Christmas holiday (flights booked, not much else sorted). Urban Adventures promises the Best. Day. Ever. I’m wondering if they can give us the Best. Christmas. Ever. Authentic and fun. As long as it doesn’t include chicken’s beaks and feet rather than turkey, it should be fine (although I promise to be open-minded).

The World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 will be announced at World Travel Market in London on Wednesday, 4th November. A great many worthy contenders are in the running #responsibletravel. Check them out here:

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