“Being a respectful and responsible traveller ” must become the mantra of all those who decide to travel other directions. But, the truth is that very few people decide to make their trip in a more intelligent and friendly way with their environment. Therefore, we will give you some tips to be a respectful and responsible traveller.
How to be a respectful traveller?
Becoming a respectful traveller does not require great skills or sacrifice. But its repercussion does have great benefits, not only for the traveller, but for the places and people where he or she travels. In this way, you can achieve greater empathy with people and less negative impact on the environment.
Inquire about cultural etiquette
This is essential if you want to be a respectful traveller. This is because when visiting delicate natural environments or sacred cultural sites if we are not informed we can incur some faults to cultural etiquette. Also, if we are not informed about the behaviours and customs we can easily offend the locals.
For example, in Thailand it is very frowned upon to point finger at people. In the same way, the king should not be disrespected, because this could put you in prison. You should not enter temples or houses with shoes, there are even restaurants and shops where you have to take off your shoes. Nor should the left hand be used to pass objects and pay, because it is considered dirty. It is eaten with a spoon and fork, but this should not enter the mouth, it is only to push the food into the spoon. Women should never touch a Thai monk or give him something.
On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia you should always eat with your right hand and you should not blow food. In Korea, you should never start eating first than the oldest person at the table. When visiting a village in Fiji, sunglasses should not be worn on the head, hats should be removed and women should cover their shoulders and knees.
This favours the elimination of barriers that limit the integration of tourists with the local. These may be based on gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, financial situation, or other condition. Likewise, sexist languages, offensive comments or the use of labels that contribute to negatively stereotyping people should be avoided.
Do not participate in discriminatory activities
The use of animals should not be encouraged, failing to attend shows where they are locked up and mistreated. Most advisable, if you want to know the local fauna, inquire about respectful shelters where some exotic species are found, that are not locked in cages and that are well cared for.
Find out the basics before traveling
Although the objective of traveling for many is to meet other people and other cultures. It is very important to investigate about all the basics of that place where we go, especially in the cultural aspect. As we mentioned previously, there are many protocols or cultural labels that if we do not comply with them, we could commit a serious fault. It is not about making a deep and extensive study of that country or place. Just by learning how to correctly pronounce the names of certain places or streets, know some etiquette rules or important sites.
Know the context and history of the places
Around the world there are many places where humans have committed atrocities or very unfortunate tragedies have occurred. Which strangely, despite what they symbolize, have become popular attractions for travellers. This type of tourism is known as dark tourism, where tourists encouraged by the curiosity to visit places associated with death, disaster and despair.
Places like “Ground Zero” in New York, the concentration camps of Eastern Europe and Chernobyl are popular in this type of tourism and many want to know. Although visiting these sites helps us understand what happened, the problem is that these tragic places have become a tourist company where the behaviour of visitors is disrespectful and very disappointing.
In order not to participate in these types of actions, we must be aware of our behaviour when we attend these places. Make your visit from empathy, education and social responsibility. It is preferable not to take pictures.
Avoid destroying or taking away any part of the site you visit
This is one of the most important aspects of being a respectful traveller. When attending any place, such as an archaeological ruin, avoid taking a piece of stone or tile to have as an ornament in your home. Although there are no notices prohibiting it, do not do it because they are an essential part of those places, vestiges of their past.
Never talk about politics
Every respectful traveller should avoid talking about politics when visiting any country or place. It is true that we all have, at a certain moment, an opinion on anything, but when we are visiting a country, talking about local issues, but, above all, politics with the locals is nothing productive.
First of all, we do not live in that country and as much as we have read or researched on certain topics on websites or the news, we will never understand the realities of each place. In addition, talking about politics in many cases can heat up, causing those involved to end up annoyed.