How to be a RESPECTFUL traveler?

 We have talked a lot on this blog about traveling and how it can help you gain new perspectives and experiences. Although most of the travelers are careful and respectful, I have come across a fair share of people who are disrespectful towards other people and the place they might be visiting. 

I have come across tourists who have had way too much to drink and spoil the experience for everyone else. Similarly, I have also seen someone writing on the walls of an ancient burial ground (who was reprimanded btw.) and so on.

Going somewhere new, especially to places where they may not speak your language, can be pretty exciting, but at the same time, it can also be overwhelming, and you may even be worried about how the locals treat you. However, there are things that you can do to ensure your experience abroad is rewarding for everyone involved. 

Not everyone speaks English - There are thousands of languages that are spoken all across the world. The majority of the people are bilingual or trilingual, and some of these languages don’t include English.

For eg: you are visiting a remote place in India or China, and it may not be possible that you will find people who speak English there. Although it may be frustrating that people don’t understand your language when you need some immediate help. However, a respectful traveler adapts to the destination and can a few introductory phrases or sentences or essential words before you embark on your journey.

Another useful tip is that you should always have your hotel card or destination on paper. A lot of cab drivers may not understand English or even your accent. Just hand them the information about where you need to go, and that can save you a lot of time. Learning hello, thank you and other quick phrases is not only fun but can help your experience go smoothly.

Educate yourself on local custom or etiquette – It is essential when you are traveling internationally, you understand the tradition, religion or etiquette of the country or region that you are visiting. At times, what you consider normal might be rude or disrespectful to some areas. Ensure you do your research on the culture and customs before visiting a country or a region. 

Respect local sites - Sightseeing is an essential and important part of a travel itinerary, but make sure you research well beforehand where you are going and what may be expected of you especially if it is a religious or ancient site. There might be some religious aspect to the areas you might be visiting, and as a respectful traveler, you need to acknowledge that and respect the cultural values of the places that you are visiting. 

Many religious places, old palaces, churches, or temples are bound to have a respectable dress code. They might ask you to wear something to cover your shoulders and knees. If you show up in a tank top and shorts refusing to cover up, that can be deemed disrespectful. 

Be careful when you take picturesand always ask before you take pictures - In the age of social media, this is becoming even more important. Some sites may be considered too sacred for clicking pictures. If it’s a more popular tourist location, there may be signs posted asking you to refrain from using a camera, the signs are often in english and local language but you can guess from the imagery. You may also be able to tell by observing others at the site and whether they are taking photos. If you’re unsure and feel like a more solemn place deserving of a higher level of respect, follow your gut and don't take your camera out.

Be environmentally friendly - A lot of people and cultures worldwide respect nature and even worship elements of nature. Their economy may also be dependent on agriculture or forests. Plus we all share this planet so it is best to be mindful of the pollution that you may cause while traveling.

Not littering, using environmentally friendly packaging, not wasting food, etc. can all fall under environment-friendly behavior. E.g.: if you are driving in Bhutan, you are expected to follow specific rules, and people don’t use the car horn there while driving, as they respect the environment and to avoid noise pollution. And if you are fortunate to drive and explore places there, adhere to those rules as a respectful traveler. 

Support local restaurants and businesses - This includes taking tours with local guides. Also, consider where you stay since your contribution to the economy can be that much more valuable.

Sometimes you may not agree with a particular place's customs, ideas, or requirements. It is best to decline what makes you uncomfortable respectfully.

Uninformed travelers who are not aware of local customs can offend natives as well as other tourists. For example, be mindful of the tipping culture in a country and whether it is commonly acceptable. Respecting people’s privacy is also vital.

#Respectingculture, #Respectfultraveller, #Travellingetiquette, #travellingglobally, #ecofriendlytravel, #supporttravel, #learningculture


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