From driving out locals in Barcelona to destroying nature in Iceland, the negative aspects of tourism have been making more and more headlines in recent years. The problem of mass tourism has indeed grown so bad in some areas that anti-tourist movements have been springing up. But while this news is disheartening, it does provide us with an opportunity: not only to reconsider where we travel but how we travel as well. Keep reading for 5 tips for how to be a better tourist, and a better global citizen!
Respect the Local Laws and Customs
This might seem like a given, but when you travel to a new place or country you should respect the local customs. Before you begin your visit, do some research! Figure out what constitutes appropriate behaviour in your destination: whether it’s wearing trousers or a headscarf, to being conscious of the connotations of your body language and more.
It may seem like a lot of work for what’s supposed to be your holiday, but the locals will appreciate it, and you’ll get more out of your trip as a result.
Respect the Local Environment
While cities and manmade landmarks are a big draw for tourists, so too are natural ones. While an adventure in nature can be an incredible and worthwhile experience, be conscious of where you are and what you’re doing. It may seem like a good idea to run off the beaten track to get a taste of the pristine, but doing so could cause a lot more damage than you might think. Some plants can take decades to grow, but be killed off very quickly by foot traffic.
As the old maxim runs: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”, you might not even want to leave those. Consult locals before you set out to learn how best to interact with the native flora and fauna. It’ll make you a better tourist, and your children will thank you.
Cut Back on Waste
Tying into our previous tip, try to be conscious of the amount of waste you produce when you travel. While you have to be conscious not to pack too much, a reusable water bottle, bag and travel mug won’t take up too much space and can go a long way to limiting your rubbish. With the global plastic crisis, touting these three items around with you (both at home and abroad) will help keep plastic and other trash out of our oceans, cities and landfills: meaning cleaner beaches and city streets. Let’s face it, that’s just good for everyone.
Respect the Local People
Sure, it might seem the same as respecting local customs – and the two are definitely related, but we think it worth reiterating: respect local people. Don’t be an idiot. Sure, when you go on vacation you want to have a good time, but think about how your behaviour affects locals and other tourists around you.
While you may not be breaking any laws, show some respect to your host-location: if the main objective for your trip is finding a novel place for a weekend binge with your friends, perhaps reconsider your reasons for going.
Learn the Local Language
Finally, although English is becoming more and more widespread around the world, don’t be the entitled tourist who expects everyone to speak English. Show some consideration for your host-country and learn some phrases in the local language. Even just a few basic words like “hello”, “goodbye”, and “thank you” can go a long way. While you might get some sneers for mispronunciation (Parisians are a bit notorious for this), most people will appreciate the gesture.
Want more tips for how to be a better tourist? Learn how to be a more environmentally-friendly traveller.
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