Having the opportunity to travel the world is an amazing, meaningful experience. It opens you up to new cultures, helps you meet new people and gives you a more well-rounded view of the world.
The global travel industry has an economic contribution of more than $7.6 trillion. But have you ever wondered where that money is going?
As we're traveling, it's important for us all to be mindful of how we're impacting the cultures and the lives of the people we're encountering. By traveling mindfully, we can mitigate some of the negative impacts of the tourist industry.
1. Be careful who you book withIf you decide to book with a travel agent, research their environmental and social policies to ensure they align with your beliefs.
2. Research and respect the cultureKnow before you go! Make sure you understand the customs (such as standards of dress), honor religious and cultural traditions, and learn at least a few basic phrases (such as "how are you?", "thank you" and "you're welcome") in the native language.
3. Support the local businessesBuy locally-made products, eat at local restaurants, hire local tour guides, stay in guest houses rather than international hotels and use public transportation. These are some of the easiest ways that the local community can benefit financially from your visit.
4. Be smart about where you volunteer
Voluntourism is on the rise and while your intentions of volunteering abroad may be positive, it's important to make sure the impact matches those intentions. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Make sure you're volunteering with organizations that are ethical, you're doing activities that have a positive impact on the community and most importantly, you're not taking work away from locals. Many voluntourism opportunities take critical, paying work away from local citizens, which ultimately impacts their ability to survive.
If you travel consciously, you have the opportunity to not only benefit personally from the experience but also to make a positive impact on the world. Let's work together to travel smart, lessen the negative impacts of the tourist industry and help support cultures around the world.
Where are you traveling to next?