Travelling is something that many people see as a right, when in fact it’s a luxury. You’re being invited into someone else’s home, and as such it’s up to you to be a gracious guest. Yet, more often than not, Americans can be known for being, dare we say, obnoxious guests.
This can be a real problem if we hope to make a good name for ourselves. Bbesides being polite, adopting responsible and respective tourist behaviors can help contribute to sustainable practices, and enhance everyone’s travel experience. If you want to find out ways to be a better tourist, then here’s how you can do your part.
Respect Local Customs
The first step is respecting the customs and traditions of where you’re visiting. Get to know what the local customs are, and any etiquette you should be aware of before you arrive. Don’t make the mistake of arriving and realizing that your entire wardrobe could be considered shocking in your destination.
It’s important not to rebel against the culture you’re visiting, because in truth, it’s you that’s being invited. The more you can demonstrate respect for the culture and heritage of the community you’re visiting, the more you can breed mutual respect and appreciation amongst countries. Not to mention, your experience will be that much better. If locals see that you’re doing your part to respect their culture, then they’ll be that much more gracious and kind as hosts.
Be Environmentally Conscious
Tourists can come with a considerable carbon footprint. Each time tourists visit somewhere, they’re increasing the amount of pollution, and can even contribute to destroying natural sites. It helps to know the impact of any activities that you’re taking part in. For example, do you really want to support the destruction of Venice? Avoid giant cruise ships that are actively and consistently destroying this already fragile place. If you visit somewhere historical, do not steal pieces of stone or plants. These are just a few examples of how you should be aware of how your actions can affect the environment long term where you’re visiting.
Learn the Language
No one is asking you to go to Rome speaking fluent Italian. However, you should learn some basic phrases before you visit. Going to a place and automatically assuming that it’s everyone else’s role to adjust to your language is very ethnocentric. Be a gracious guest by getting to know some basic terminology. Start with the basics like “hello” and “goodbye,” and try a few other phrases like “where are the bathrooms?” These small gestures can make a world of difference in changing the way that tourists are perceived. Respect where you are, and more likely than not, you will be respected in return.