Travel isn’t just about enjoying new sights and sounds; it also means learning about the people and places you encounter and actually caring about who they are and where they come from. Proper decorum can make your trip more enjoyable not just for you, but also for those you’ll be leaving behind once you board that return flight. Here are a few tips on how you can be the best traveler you can be:
1. Know and honor local culture.
Before heading to a new destination, do your research. Knowing the history, the culture, the laws, and the sensibilities of where you’re headed can help you adjust better and efficiently guide yourself on how you should speak and act towards the locals that you will meet.
2. Learn some phrases in their language.
Speaking the local tongue can help you get around the area easily, and it will also show that you're willing to adjust. While it's impossible to master a new language right away, simply be proficient enough for you to be able to exchange pleasantries, ask for directions, understand local signage. (Just don't forget to learn how to say that you only know a few words.) It can seriously be a huge relief to you and the person you’re speaking with if you can understand each other.
TRY: Heading to Japan soon? Learn the basics at Unmei Nihongo Center. Contact them via www.unmei-ph.com for schedules and rates.
3. Don’t haggle so much.
It’s typical to haggle when you’re shopping in huge business districts and night markets, but when you’re buying your pasalubong from small and household industries, don’t abuse the discount. Support their enterprise by buying at a good price and recommending it to other tourists. A bit of help can go a long way in keeping them in business.
4. “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.”
Visiting new places can be very exciting, so much so that you’ll probably be tempted to make a souvenir out of shells or a bottle of sand. Resist the urge and instead support local enterprises by buying goods from them instead. “When the people understand the relationship they have with the environment, they’ll respect it,” says Marine Biologist and conservation advocate Sam Craven in the recently launch #HowIFly campaign of Air Asia. Let others enjoy the beauty that welcomed you by keeping it the way it is.
TRY: Air Asia’s #HowIFly Instagram contest and create a 15-30 second video on how you can fly responsibly. For the full mechanics, visit Air Asia on Facebook.
5. Lessen your environmental footprint.
Bring your own water canister, carry an eco-bag, and if available, rent a bike to get around. Do your part by being aware of the mark that you’ll leave in the environment, and respect the locals enough to help them preserve their home even in the simplest and smallest ways.