It’s been said that it’s not where you travel but how you travel that’s important, and it’s more important now than ever in the current environment. After months of backlash against tourists and overtourism, the current situation has given us an unprecedented chance for improvement. However good you are at travelling, there are always ways to be a better traveller.
This may include everything from being sustainable to being culturally aware. Here are 10 ideas for how to be a better traveller (when we can all travel freely again)
11 Ways To Be A Better Traveller
1. Research Before You Go
Research your destination well in advance to find out about their cuisine, food, culture, etc. so that you’re not in for a shock when you reach. Understanding the customs and laws of the country you are visiting can make the experience safer and ultimately more enjoyable.
2. Travel Off Season
Over the past few years, lots of popular destinations have seen incredible overcrowding, especially places in Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik and Amsterdam during the peak season. So, instead of travelling to places in peak periods, travel off-season when these places are often more relaxed and the local infrastructure isn’t overstretched.
Also Read: What Can We Actually Do About Overtourism?
3. Travel To Lesser Visited Places
If you have no choice but to travel during the high season (for example if you can only travel during school holidays) another way to travel responsibly would be to travel to lesser-visited places that need tourists and their money more than those that want to see their backs. For example, if you’re trying to be a more responsible traveller, pick Montenegro instead of Croatia or Bologna instead of Florence during high season, and save other more popular places for later.
4. Get Off The Beaten Track
When you pick a destination, there’s much to be gained simply by getting off the beaten track a little. We’re not asking you to skip iconic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, or the Louvre. But, once you’ve seen these explore your destination’s side streets and you’ll discover a whole new world away from the one dominated by tourism.
5. Go Local And Engage More
Speaking of worlds away from tourism, why not get right out of the tourist zone and explore local neighbourhoods. Spend some time in local parks and gardens, hang out in a local café or bar, and interact with locals for a better travel experience. You’ll get the chance to meet lots of people who can even give you tips on what to do, see, or eat locally. Support small local businesses and spend more money in the places you’re going to. Additionally, try to stay in apartment rentals, holiday houses and villa rentals, so you can give back more to the communities you’re spending time in.
6. Eat Local, Drink Local
In many places tourist restaurants often serve poor quality ‘international food’ that’s expensive, and you’re only eating with other tourists. The best food is usually where the locals eat. Quality aside, these local watering holes and eating spots may also be less expensive and will give you the chance to get a glimpse into local lives and engage with local people in a way that’s hard to do in the tourist zones.
8. Learn A Local Language
If you’re planning to engage in any meaningful way with the locals, it’s important that you know a little bit of the language. At least try to learn some basic phrases (such as – hello, goodbye, yes, no, how are you, good thank you, please, excuse me, you’re welcome, how much, etc.). Locals will appreciate the effort you’ve made, which will make your interactions more rewarding and give you a more meaningful travel experience.
Also read: Best online language courses for any level
9. Learn Things And Experience More
When you get to spend more time at a place, you’ll have the chance to learn and experience lots of amazing things. Whether it’s a local street food tour, a cooking class, or even learning diving or dance, there’s nothing like learning a new skill that your destination is known for. You’ll gain a unique insight into the local life while getting the most unique souvenir there is.
10. Travel Slow
One of the easiest ways to be a better traveller is to travel slow. What it means is to be more aware of your surroundings when you travel, to spend more time at each place, and to soak in the local culture and community. By doing this, you’ll get to burrow underneath the skin of a place, and enjoy a deeper experience.
11. Be More Sustainable
As far as possible, say no to plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles, and other non-recyclable items. Travel with reusable bags, refillable water bottles, and always take your garbage with you to be a more sustainable traveller. You can even seek out organic eateries, farmers markets and hotels and tour companies that are making an effort to be greener
12. Avoid Animal Tourism
Avoiding animal tourism is one of the best ways you can travel more responsibly and ethically. Say no to elephant rides, tiger temples, dolphin parks, bear shows, and the suspicious photo ops. Those animals are drugged so that they’re docile enough to not eat you and they are most certainly harmed during training. Instead consider supporting animal sanctuaries, animal conservation and rehabilitation efforts.
Also Read: How Terrible Are Animal Experiences?
Why Does Travelling More Responsibly Matter?
Responsible travel is about being more ethical and sustainable in the decisions you make. Responsible travel, greener travel, sustainable travel, and ethical travel aren’t just travel trends, they’re key to ensuring that we leave the places we visit better than we left them, and not worse off. It’s also about how we behave when we travel, and the importance of being culturally sensitive (for example follow local customs, respect local religions, dress modestly, and show regard for the people and community). So, keep yourself aware of what you’re doing, what you choose to do or not to do could have a much greater impact than you imagine.