I’m always amazed when I travel just how many awesome people there are out there. There are individuals that have no obligation or ties to me and in many cases aren’t being paid for their services and yet they treat me like a long lost friend. It really lets me know that regardless of what the news says or what the general opinion of the state of the world is, people are good and this world is an awesome place.
There are always exceptions, of course. We’ve all had those moments on the road where we just take a step back and go ‘whoa… that’s not right’ or you see someone doing something incredibly rude. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself and hopefully you’ve felt bad about it later. Thanks to our mommas and our pappas, sometimes in spite of them, we’ve learned what it is to be responsible and what is the right thing to do in our daily lives and when we travel, we take it with us.
Here are some ways you can ensure you are a responsible traveller when you’re out there on the road. If we all do our part, we can keep this amazing world and all the people on it in tip top shape. After all, you never know when aliens are going to pop up and judge us!
1. Don’t Litter
This is a no brainer but seriously, people do this all the time on vacation because they feel like someone else can just do it for them. Other excuses include ‘I couldn’t find the garbage can’ or ‘The place is filthy anyways’. Just hold onto your garbage until you find the proper place to dispose of it, if not for the place than for your own sense of decency, otherwise you’re the jerk in the eyes of observers.
2. Help out Others
Nobody likes to be taken advantage of but there are times when you could chose to ignore a situation or step in and help. Keep yourself out of harm’s way, of course, but think how it would feel if you were lost or hurt and nobody would do anything for you.
3. Be Respectful of Local Customs
New rules and conventions are confusing at times, but generally if you just pay attention to what others are doing, that’s probably what you should do too. No shoes or pictures in the temple? Done. No drinking in public? Done. Where respectable clothing? Done. Remember – you are in their country and you must follow their rules regardless of how you feel about them.
4. Leave a Place Better Than You Found It
I don’t mean get to work rebuilding the ruins, but it never hurts to do a little extra, whether it’s cleaning the common kitchen so others have a nice place to eat or writing a thank you note to the hostel staff – little gestures can improve everyone’s experience!
5. Focus on the Positives
It’s so easy to bitch about a place, especially once you get back home, but refrain from this. Negatives are a part of life, but your good words will inspire others on their travels.