You got your shots, you have your arriving accommodations, you have your contacts for when you arrive, you've made your passport copies and noted where the embassy of your home country is where you are traveling to. You have travelers insurance and you've contacted your credit card companies and banks to notify there will be transactions being made in a foreign place. Sounds responsible enough right?!
Absolutely! It's great to be safe and prepared when traveling, but one of the most important things to me and in my opinion should be for EVERY traveler is to do your homework before you reach your destination. Having a passport is an amazing privilege and with each stamp that's placed on it, we are being welcomed as guests to a country outside our own. To get the most out of a travel experience it's good to learn about the culture and customs of it's people beforehand.
Depending on how much time you have before your trip, it's a good idea to learn as much of the language as you can. Locals really appreciate it when an effort has been made by you to speak their native tongue, not to mention it can sometimes save you from getting a "tourist price" when shopping. I've seen it too many times. Be genuinely interested in learning the culture and customs of your host country. It makes for such a rewarding trip.
As a responsible traveler, it's Paramount to be Culturally Sensitive. Be respectful and celebrate the differences and similarities between your customs/culture and those of your host country. There is nothing tackier or sadder then a traveler that neglects this important part of travel. Not only do you do yourself a huge disservice by not being able to experience a full understanding of where you traveled to, you reinforce the negative view many places in the world have of us Americans at this point in time.
So go off that beaten path, forget the "gram worthy" places and have dinner with a local. Find out what really makes your destination unique and rack up those unforgettable memories. Memories which are knowledge that cannot be acquired from a video or a book....you've got to experience it for yourself....with as open a mind as possible. This takes time and comes with experience, but once you learn this important part of travel you will no longer feel like a foreigner in a strange land.....rather you will feel at home around the world.
I welcome your thoughts on this topic. What is responsible travel to you and what other suggestions would you have to help one become a more responsible and culturally sensitive traveler? Hope everyone is having an awesome Wednesday!
Good vibes always,
"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind." - Anthony Bourdain