20 ways to be a perfect tourist

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2020-04-22. Autor: Milena

Many of you, going for a trip, wonder how to be a perfect tourist.

How to be a responsible tourist? Welcome? The one that the local community will greet with a genuine smile, not with a headache? How to implement the rules of sustainable tourism, how to take care of good experiences during the trip and at the same time preserve the natural, cultural and social values of the places that we visit?

Take care of the nature

1. Try not to leave any marks of your presence.

The nature gives us life – it gives us oxygen and food, it gives us entertainment and unique aesthetic experience. Try not to hurt it in a direct contact. Don’t damage plants, don’t flush animals out, don’t leave any trash behind. A plastic bottle may stay in the ground even thousands of years, a cigarette butt poisons up to 1m3 of soil and up to 100m3 of water. Take your garbage with you and throw them into adequate containers.

My geography teacher, on a way to the geography competition, played me and my colleagues an eco-song: “Separately paper, separately glass, separately plastic, remember that.” I did remember that. The planet will be grateful for waste segregation, and our grandchildren will have a chance to see what we can see, not just deserts of concrete.

2. Walk only on marked trails.

It happens that local companies, trying to provide tourists original experience, take them to protected areas, where endemic vegetation is in danger of extinction. The protected areas are protected due to some reason. Human’s presence is not neutral to the nature, growing number of people in a place causes its deterioration. If you want beautiful and unique places to stay beautiful and unique, respect the nature and follow the marked trails.

3. Pay for the entrance to the natural heritage places.

Very often there are entry tickets for the entrance to parks, nature monuments etc. Remember that this money is used for maintenance of those natural goods. Paying for the entrance, you acknowledge the nature for the fact that it exists and wish it many more years in unchanged conditions.

4. Choose environment-friendly means of transport.

If it’s possible, walk or use a bike instead of a car, alternatively hitchhike (check before your trip if it’s accepted and welcome). Choose rather a train than a plane and rather a bus than a cab. If other ways to get to a certain place are limited (e.g. Terceira), check if the airline gives a chance to pay for the carbon dioxide emission. Usually this is symbolic money, but its influence on the environment protection is not only symbolic.

5. Pack your luggage rationally.

Packing your luggage for a trip, try to think it over to make sure that you won’t leave garbage in the place where you’re travelling to. Single-use shampoos, tiny face cream packs may be convenient, but small reusable containers are much better for our planet. If you pour a bit of your shampoo into a 100-ml bottle, you won’t have a heavy luggage, and you will take the little bottle back with you and use it during your next trip, instead of increasing the amount of garbage in your dream destination.

6. Avoid disposable products.

I already mentioned it above, but additionally: drink directly from a glass instead of drinking through a straw, go shopping with your own bag, and if you buy one apple, don’t use a plastic bag. It’s also applicable to everyday life, not only to travels, but during a travel it’s also very important. For example, imagine Terceira – a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And now imagine piles of trash produced by us each year. And fish swimming among the garbage. Maybe there are better prospects.

Get to know the local culture

7. Before the trip get to know as much as you can about the place that you’re going to.

Read about its history, culture, customs. Check what the place looks like, who lives there, what are local festivities. Thanks to that, when you get there, you will experience it better, you will get to know this place even better. Using your knowledge, you will be able to ask better questions and look for the answers live.

8. Participate in local events.

One gets to know a place by its people. Because a place it’s not just a place, it’s a way of living. Local events are one of the opportunities to see how the local community really lives, plays, what celebrates. Participate in a local festivity, go to a local cinema, see what makes people happy and what makes them sad. Don’t be afraid to ask a person standing next to you what you’re participating in, don’t be scared to ask a person in a tourist office or in a museum for a tip where to go, what to experience. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. If you’re a good tourist, they will willingly share with you their knowledge and boast about the local customs.

9. Eat locally.

Food is a part of the culture, it’s an element of life. Try to choose local restaurants, so that you get to known real local cuisine and support local economy. In some cultures, food is more important, in others – less, but everybody has to eat. In each place it’s worth asking about local specialties and local products, and eat them during the stay.

10. Take care of the local heritage.

Respect not only the nature, but also the work of human hands. Whether a place is on UNESCO list or not – it’s a heritage of the travel destiny, which you chose. It’s like with the nature – try not to leave any marks of your presence.

11. Respect local law.

Before your trip, check the law in your travel destiny and obey it. In Singapore you mustn’t chew a gum, in Denmark you mustn’t cover your face in public places, in the United Arab Emirates you can end up behind the bars if your medicines for cold contain codeine. It’s better not to check on yourself how the international law works. Instead, for your own interest, obey the law of the country that you’re visiting. It may be a new valuable experience.

12. Be open to new things – instead of judging, talk.

A very important element – be open to differences. You’re not going to a new place to feel the same as at home. You go to broaden your experience. So don’t expect that everything will be exactly as you know it. Many things may surprise you or even shock you. Don’t judge hot-headedly though. This is a different place, these are different people, different history. The fact that somebody thinks differently doesn’t mean that they think incorrectly. It only means that they think differently. Instead of drawing hasty conclusions, talk. Ask questions. Be interested. Who knows, maybe you’ll look at life from a different perspective?

Appreciate local society

13. Respect local society – you’re a guest there.

You’re a guest, so adjust to the local way of being. Respect your hosts. It’s their home, make sure that despite your presence they can still feel like at home. And that after your departure nothing will change. As I’ve already mentioned – come with a conscience that it will be different. That new people are different than the ones you deal with on a daily basis. If you open up to them, you’ll come back home enriched.

14. Learn a few words in the language used in the place that you’re visiting.

I was writing about it in posts on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. If you learn and use a few words (“good morning”, “thank you”, etc.), you will be perceived friendly and your experience will be deeper. Each language has its own vision of life, sometimes you can see it already in simple expression (e.g. Portuguese “thank you” means literally “grateful”). Being able to say even a few expressions in the local language will help you have better contact with people and get to know your holidays destination better.

15. Try living as locals.

Check what they buy, where they eat, where they hang out. Ask somebody, ask for tips. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd, become a part of the background. Sit and observe pace, movements, faces, emotions. Choose the same coffee that your neighbour has just ordered. Wander around the nearby streets without a map. Try imagining daily life in that place. Open up your mind.

16. Ask people if you can take them a picture.

If you want to take a picture of a person, make sure they don’t mind it. Respect people’s area and privacy. Spend time with them. Treat them as people, not objects. Get to know their story. If they agree for a photo – you will be able to talk about this photo for an hour. If not – you will finish such a meeting enriched anyway.

17. Help the local economy.

Instead of going to the McDonald’s, eat in local restaurants, buy in local shops, choose local products selled by local farmers and artisans. This way you will acknowledge the place and people for hosting you and you know that the money that you spend will go into right hands and contribute to the maintenance and growth of that region.

18. Thank for a favour. There ain’t such a thing as travelling for free.

Many people wonder how to travel for free. As a responsible tourist you know though that there ain’t such a thing as travelling for free. There’s always somebody who’s paying. The driver who drops you off pays for gas, your couchsurfing’s host pays for water and electricity, a family that invited you with open arms for a dinner pays for your meal. And sure – they all do that because they want to. But it won’t cost you saying “thank you” and trying to return the favour. Even if not to them (they may not agree) – to the next person met on your way. Let karma come back in the best version.

Communicate the world what’s important

19. Share your experience with the world.

If there’s something interesting in your memory and heart from your travel, share it with the world. Don’t keep knowledge and experience only for yourself, let others learn about a new part of our planet too, even if it is with your photos and story. Life is too short (at least so far) to see absolutely each corner of the world, but we can always get closer to that goal thanks to the exchange of travel experiences.

Educate others how to be a responsible tourist.

You already know how to travel to be able to make the best use of your experience and also care about leaving your travel destination in an unchanged form. Now try to share that knowledge with others. Thanks to you our planet has a chance to stay beautiful for long years. Use your chance!

And travel happily, because travelling is beautiful! See you on an adventure trail!

Lagoinha da Serreta, Fot. Ricardo Silveira
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