As tourists, we leave marks behind and our visit does make an impact. It can be for the good – or the worse.
These are suggestiins on how to make a difference when travelling:
1: Respect the local customs and culture
Remember that we are guests: Pay attention to etiquette and learn the rules on visiting holy places, how to dress in public and expectations for behaviour in public spaces.
2: Hire local guides
Plan the trip by yourself, but use local guides and drivers if possible. That way you get to know local culture, customs and get to contribute to local economy.
3: Buy locally made products
Buy art and goods produces locally. Dine at various locally-run restaurants offering local produce.
4: Pack less and buy what you need
Some of the consumer goods we bring along on holidays might just as well be bought locally. That way we get to reduce the weight on luggage and give back to local community.
5: Choose smaller accommodations
When we choose locally owned hotels and inns, we contribute directly to the local community. Look for hotels with eco-focus that support local entrepreneurs.
Even large, international chains may contribute to the community offering jobs and supporting local community in other ways. Check their websites.
6: Drop all inclusive hotels
Do not put all your holiday money in one place, but spread it on several players. It is better to spend a two week holiday in multiple smaller accommodations and eating at various restaurants than opting for an all inclusive hotel for two weeks. (Anyway, that’s my opinion).
7: Know local tip culture
If you are happy with the guided tour, the hotel staff, the service and food at the restaurant, it might be expected that you give some tips. In some countries employees depend on it.
8: Never give money to begging children
Children should be in school or out in the streets playing – not begging for money from tourists. But some places this might not be the case. Support a local organization that help the community instead.
9: Visit off-season
Visit the most popular tourist attractions when there are fewer tourists and the possibility of doing harm to local culture and nature is less of an issue. Pay attention to local regulations.
10: Is it ok to take – and share – that photo?
Be considerate and read the situation before shooting that photo or sending off that snap. Some countries we visit may have different regulations for what is accepted and not (military, museum, holy places mm). That goes for drones as well. Know the rules.
11: Learn a few local words and phrases
A simple way to show interest and respect is by learning a few words and phrases in the local language. It’s a great way to get in touch with local on, and then it’s really fun to learn something new.
These tips are primarily based on my own thoughts and experiences on the subject, but there are also tips I’ve gotten through talking with other travellers and professionals.