Being a tourist in today’s age means being respectful and responsible. Here are some tips on how to be a responsible and respectful tourist when visiting a new place.
In 2002, Cape Town and the World Summit defined what being a “Responsible Tourist” means: “Making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” According to the Responsible Tourism Partnership, “Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable.” Here are nine ways you can be a better and more responsible tourist.
1. Eat locally.
It is important to improve the economy of local eateries over franchise restaurants. Try to avoid eating at crowded eateries and look for a smaller joints, where money is usually needed. Odds are, you’ll find something more authentic here than in the commercialized places.
2. Shop locally.
Rather than going to mass produced brand name stores for souvenirs, try some outdoor markets. In some areas of the world, local artisans have passed down their craft for generations, making it much more authentic than a store bought item.
3. Be kind to the environment.
This goes for wherever you venture, even in your own city. Use reusable bags when shopping, be aware of your water usage, don’t litter, and avoid using plastic straws. In general, follow the Leave No Trace principles. This will not only help the environment of your vacation spot, but also the environment of the whole world.
4. Be respectful of the culture.
Be considerate of the dress culture and usual rules that apply to it. Be aware of how locals are dressed and try to dress accordingly. If you are unsure if your clothes are appropriate, feel free to ask someone at the hotel. Look up etiquette rules before visiting the country and be mindful of them throughout your trip.
5. Follow the rules.
This should be pretty self explanatory. Make sure to obey signs and the local law enforcement. Causing a scene can lead to a bad representation of your home country.
6. Be aware of how you present the location on social media.
What you post online may be the only perception some people may have of the location. Avoid sarcasm or inaccurate descriptions as this can spread misinformation or cause ill guided views from other people about the area.
7. Do some research on current events.
This will keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the country. If some activities, such as: eating at certain restaurants are contributing to a bad organization, deforestation or animal cruelty; this will help to you inform where you should spend your money so as to not support inhumane activities.
8. Ask before taking pictures.
While taking photographs is a great way to remember your trip, think about the type of pictures you are going to bring back. If you are photographing the people in the area, ask beforehand. For most people, they are just going about their day, not doing anything out of the ordinary, but to tourists, it’s a whole new lifestyle. Put yourself in their shoes and say to yourself, “Would I be okay with someone if they took my picture while I was going about my day?” Then ask the person. If they say Yes, great! If not, just move on.
9. Look for cultural experiences.
Have a purposeful experience within the country. This can range from a conversation with a local, visiting a sacred temple, to taking a cooking class. All of these can help you to immerse yourself into the local culture while remaining respectful and learning from people you may otherwise not have met.
To be a responsible tourist is to traverse the world with good intentions. It is to travel with awareness for others and your impact. By doing so, the world will open its arms to you and there will be experiences everywhere you look.