Too many tourists today have terrible travel etiquette. They’re rude to locals, they’re disrespectful of traditional customs, and they leave the local environment in worse condition than when they arrived. It’s an unfortunate trend that we can all stop with just a few Mindful travel tourist tips. So, before you head out the door do some research and come up with an ethical travel plan.
The Importance of Travel Etiquette
The phrase “travel etiquette” is so old fashion, but the principle is very needed today. There has been a growing backlash against politically-correct or “PC” culture. But being politically correct simply means showing respect to other people and that’s critical for a Mindful vacation. Without it things can go awry.
Need an example?
It’s travel season. Millions of people are packing their carry-ons and heading to faraway destinations. Let’s say that you’re one of these travelers, but you’re low on time. You’ve packed your swimsuit and the rest of your gear, but you don’t have time to do your research on the local culture.
When you arrive, you’re unprepared. You make one cultural faux pas after another, making the locals very uncomfortable and so you get the cold shoulder. You haven’t practiced speaking the local language, so in your frustration, you start demanding that the people around you speak English. Over the next few days, things continue to go downhill. In the end, all of the miscommunication and confusion ruins what could have been an enjoyable vacation. You leave with a jaded experience and the locals have yet another tale about the oblivious tourists who travel to their town.
That’s why travel etiquette is so important.
Ethical Travel Tourist Tips
Want to be a Mindful traveler? Listed below are three ethical tourist tips that every responsible travel person needs to know.
Respect the Customs
Before you head to the airport it’s important that you do a little research. It can make all the difference.
A thorough Google search and a trip to the library or bookstore is all you need. Read up on all the customs that you might need to know—from greetings to proper attire. Catch up on the local news. What sort of newsworthy events has been going on in the city? Is there anything that might affect your plans? Check out travel blogs for tips specific to your destination. Lastly, be sure to take notes in your travel journal so you can refer back later.
Respect the Environment
Heavily trafficked areas tend to be littered with trash and other debris. Whether you’re vacationing at a beach destination or in a historical city, be sure to respect the local environment. Stay in eco-friendly hotels. Cut down on your carbon emissions by taking public transportation or renting a bike. Recycle all of your garbage. For beach mementos, take pictures and leave the seashells on the beach where they belong. All of these things make for a more mindful traveler.
Be a Mindful Guest
Remember, you can take a vacation from your work problems, but not from your manners. When you’re traveling you are a guest in someone else’s community. And your vacation wants and needs do not trump that of the local environment and people. You are a guest, so act like one.
Before you go learn more about the local language. Mastering some of the basic words, like “please” and “thank you,” can go a long way. There are language apps for your smartphone, so you can always have a language dictionary on hand. Treat others with respect and be mindful of how your behavior could be affecting others.
Bonus. Another great way to be a Mindful tourist is to volunteer while traveling. It’s called “voluntouring.” It’s a hybrid holiday that combines volunteer work and travel in a short vacation. You can find more examples of voluntouring here.