Traveling should not be a selfish act that we simply do to indulge our needs no matter the toll it takes on others. When we travel responsibly, we also give something while getting so much more than we bargained for.
Being a better traveler means you'll become a better person as well because you will also help other people, animals, and the planet. In other words, you will help yourself, too. But how do we do that exactly? How can we become better travelers?
The anti-tourist movement has become a real thing in many cities across the planet. Due to an unbelievably high number of tourists during the peak season, citizens of many popular cities and towns find it hard to live without too much stress. The noise, the traffic jams, the garbage, and hundreds of people on the streets - all of this is driving the infrastructure of those cities to the breakpoint while the locals are under enormous pressure to live normally.
To avoid being one of those tourists who contribute to the problem, visit popular destinations in the off-season. That way, you won't disrupt the local way of life but you will benefit, too. You will better experience the local culture, it will be easier to visit popular sites and locals will be much more welcoming.
There are better ways to stay in a specific destination than booking an all-inclusive holiday through a huge multinational travel company. It won't benefit the people who live in the place of your interest. Instead, there are a few options more beneficial to locals.
First, you can check the list of nearby hotels that have taken the green approach. These hotels are self-sustainable and often use food products from local markets.
Secondly, you can book accommodation directly with a small local travel business if you are planning to travel independently. That way, you'll support small local businesses.
Thirdly, you can rent a holiday apartment or villa from the local homeowner. By staying there, you will also have a reason to buy local products and visit nearby businesses.
Lastly, instead of picking large group cruises that can overwhelm any place, opt for small cruise boats with a local guide.
Give a hand
A truly generous way of traveling is discovering how to volunteer overseas. Your vacation can have a kinder side if you decide to help the locals save their endangered animal species, for example. Animals are sentient beings, just like us, and helping them will fill your heart and soul with the gentlest emotions possible.
Countries like Thailand, India, Peru, Bali, Costa Rica and many others offer various volunteering programs for those who want to help the locals save their natural green areas and animals living there.
On the other hand, you can give a hand directly to locals, namely to poor people in need in developing countries. You can teach English to children in isolated villages, help build huts and homes for those who were left without their homes due to a natural disaster, or help provide medical care.
Eat and drink local food and beverages
Ok, it can be problematic to eat and drink locally in developing countries. The food and drinks that the poor local population has access to could be dangerous to your health as a foreigner.
However, luxury restaurants in developed countries often offer food of lower quality than local pubs and family-owned restaurants do. In these situations, go where locals go to eat and drink - not only will you help the local economy (and not some chain restaurant), but you will also get the chance to experience the local atmosphere and meet some of the people living there - and you can't put a price tag on that.
Additionally, buy food at the local markets. You will yet again help the locals but you will also buy fewer products that come with additional packaging.
Reduce your travel carbon footprint
Many tourists inadvertently pollute the destinations they are so eager to see and admire. By learning how to keep green while traveling, you will reduce your harming effect on the local environment. Just because you're not home, it doesn't mean you shouldn't remain eco-friendly.
First of all, always carry a reusable coffee cup, water bottle, and a food container. There's no need to use throw-away, one-time-use cups and plastic bottles from the shops and cafes. A cloth shopping bag is an excellent choice when visiting local markets. Avoiding plastic straws in cafes will also mean a lot.
When leaving your accommodation, make sure you have turned off all the lights and unplugged all electrical items you don't need - just because you're not paying for the bill, it doesn't make it ok. Instead of renting a car or getting a taxi, opt for public transport or, even better (and healthier), walk.
Becoming a better traveler is a process that will take a while. No one says you should go fully eco-friendly if that would mean too much stress on your holiday. However, introduce one or two changes at a time. Soon, you will want to do more and do better every time you travel because you will feel it makes you a better person.
Written by Nina Simons
About the Author
Nina is a digital nomad, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor and fashion design. She's passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. If you want to see what she's up to, you can find her on Twitter.
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