Traveling has never been so easy. With so many cheap flights, all-inclusive deals, and different traveling websites, everyone’s hopping on a plan to go somewhere. You basically just need a credit card, a smartphone, and your passport to start your own adventure. The problem is that “with great power comes great responsibility” (yes, that’s the Spider-Man quote).
When people visit a new country, they want to see the attractions and also have lots of fun. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they respect the culture, the values, and the environment. If you’re oblivious to your actions, you might be another person who’s contributing to predatory tourism.
It’s not too difficult to travel responsibly and sustainably, it’s just a matter of questioning your choices and trying to understand their consequences. So, what can you do to become the ideal traveler?
1. Understand the Local Culture and Laws
When you’re visiting a new country, it’s important to understand its culture, especially if it’s completely different from yours. A common faux pas that travelers make is to behave as if they’re still in their own countries. Not only can it be disrespectful to the local people, you can actually go to jail.
So, if you’re traveling around a Muslim country, for instance, you should cover up and abstain from drinking alcohol. In most of Asia, you’re expected to leave your shoes outside museums and homes, as your feet are considered the dirtiest part of your body. Most of the time, adhering to local social etiquette is easy and won’t affect your trip at all.
2. Consider Eco-Friendly Accommodations
Not all eco-friendly hotels are created the same. If you instantly associate “eco” with jungle, mosquitoes, and weird bugs, that’s definitely not the case. Although many of these hotels are indeed closer to nature, the point is not where they are, but how they take care of the environment.
So, yes, you can visit amazing five-star accommodations, where they grow their own vegetables, source electricity from solar panels, and also make sure their waste is disposed of correctly. If you, as a customer, choose these types of hotels more often, hopefully in the future, they might become the norm.
3. Support Local Businesses
Sometimes when you’re on the road for a long time, you might miss the comforts of your home country, which includes familiar products and services. It’s not a problem to have a Starbucks’ chai latte or visit a famous brand store every now and then, but it shouldn’t become a habit.
First off, you’re missing the opportunity of trying something new, but even more importantly, you’re contributing to a massive corporation instead of helping local businesses. These people are ones who really should benefit from tourism. You should consider hiring a guide to show you around, buy clothes from local stalls, and try the delicacies on offer.