How to Travel Responsibly

Editor’s Note: Sandra is our returning guest blogger who wrote the insightful blog post, The Link Between Your Five Senses and the Perfect Travel Experience several months ago. That blog was a big hit with our readers, so we hope Sandra continues to write for us. Sandra illuminates the importance of social responsibility when you travel, why it’s important, and how you can start becoming more mindful of cultural differences.

Travel Smarter.

Responsible travel involves awareness. Making smart decisions about how you travel, to where and your choice of activities protects the culture, people and the environment. We do not need to think of responsibility as a negative or tedious thing at all. It just means making smart plans and being respectful on your next trip.

Educate Yourself Before Traveling

Before you go on a trip, take some time to read about the country and its culture. Education is key to respecting a place and its traditions. This is a new place with different foods and clothing and traditions. Learn about everything: from the holidays and festivals to the local environment and what the country is known for.

Do not just go on any tour or activity that is publicized. For example, taking a ride on an elephant could go to a corporate group and, unknowingly, you might be funding animal cruelty. The more time you research the country and its culture, the better able you will be to make smart decisions while traveling.

Try to Support the Local Economy

Stay away from big brands and chains that you have in your home country. The whole point of traveling is to see new things, hear new stories, have new experiences – this expands your horizons.

Local businesses want tourists to give back to the economy. This is a rich opportunity to try authentic cuisine, see the local market and invest in one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Do not be the tourist who stays on the cruise ships or in the big hotel all day. There are lots of activities you can do to see the local culture. With a little effort, you can see a country’s religion, traditions, architecture and more.

Traveling can be inspiring. Learning about how people in other cultures do business might lead to some fundamental changes in your professional life whether it is about human contact and leadership or the type of business you want to run. You obviously love travel and authenticity, so a local flea market, for example, could inspire you to start your own small business. There might be things you and yours have accumulated on your travels that are sitting in your attic back home waiting to be rediscovered.

Talk to the Locals

When you walk into a local bakery or visit a local museum, take the time to talk to the people there. People want you to really see their hometown or country. If you ask about where to shop or where to eat, they will respect that you want to invest in the local economy and small businesses. It is also a chance to make meaningful connections while you are traveling. No one likes the tourist who experiences a county only by taking photos and texting on their phones. Engaging with people makes this experience rich and meaningful.

 

Be Aware of the Environment

Try your best to lessen your carbon footprint by making smart traveling choices. For example, use reusable bags and bottles and try to avoid plastic products since they can take hundreds of years to break down.

Public transportation is a cheaper option to move around a city and it reduces carbon emissions. And of course, the best way to see a new city or place is to use the transportation the locals use. When you can, try walking to different destinations.

Developing nations can sometimes struggle when it comes to water and power. Thus, be respectful and try to take quick showers, turn off the lights where you do not need them and when you leave. Small choices have a huge impact.

Do a Little Bit of Everything

Develop a diverse travel itinerary that includes a little bit of everything. For example, visit adventure parks, go out to dance clubs, try bike and wine tours. Don’t be afraid to make a contact with the locals and have fun their way.

A diverse plan ensures that you see and do a little bit of everything, supporting all parts of the local economy and making sure to really see this culture for everything it has to offer. You came to celebrate a culture, meet people and do things, not to sleep your days away.

Traveling and respecting cultural heritage takes a little time and research. It is not hard at all to avoid littering, shopping at local businesses and learning about an area’s traditions. You would not want someone to come to America and only visit the local Walmart and Starbucks or to throw trash into the ocean.

If many people start making smarter traveling decisions, then cultures will be protected and countries will be supported. Now it is time to think about where you want to go, what you will do and how you will travel. Remember that every decision counts. This is your chance to truly see the world and see unique cultures.

Sandra Moncada is a cycling enthusiast, who frequently escapes to hang out with her literary and movie heroes. She is vitamin D’s biggest fan, and she is passionate about meditation, Pilates and beating stress. When she’s not floating in the ocean or her outdoor pool, she loves to write about lifestyle improvements, self-development and stress-relief methods.

You can connect with her @SandramoncadaOh

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