One of my favourite things about travel is the opportunity to see new things! Sure, there’s the whole hassle of planing the actual logistics of the trip (which contrary to how that sounds, I actually enjoy) and not to mention the dent that travel can make to your wallet but once these barriers are crossed (kudos on doing so!), travel is plain and simple, one of the most exciting ways to open yourself to new things and experiences.
When we travel though, we all owe it to ourselves, the places we visit and the people we travel with, to strive to be good and decent travellers. There are lots of ways to do this of course and to that end, here are 8 simple things we can all do to become better travellers.
1.) Travel isn’t always an escape
We all travel for very valid and different reasons – one of which is that travel is a great way to escape the stress or hard reality of daily life. Travelling to escape isn’t necessarily a bad thing but we should be mindful of using this time to overcome and re-evaluate the ways in which our daily life can be less stressful. Take the opportunity to learn what makes you stressed, sad, unhappy in daily life and consider ways to implement a positive change that will benefit you much more than just a relaxing week away.
We can all learn to use travel to break cycles, take ourselves out of an emotional bubble that may help in seeing solutions that will assist your well-being.
2.) Embrace yourself and your loved ones
Travel is a great way to create some beautiful memories with the people you travel with. This in itself is a key part of travel to be honest.
I will be finally visiting Italy this week with my parents. The whole trip has been a long time coming as my mum fought cancer for the last two years (which I wrote about here). My mum is now thankfully well enough to travel and it has made me ever more grateful to enjoy travel with people that mean so much to me. This is more significant than most things and will forever be cherished and remembered within my own memories.
As travellers, we have an opportunity to embrace these beautiful experiences with loved ones. By appreciating the importance of loved ones, we can make time to enjoy beautiful experiences with loved ones – which is always good!
3.) Don’t just consume
Our travels should always be about more than being a self-interested consumer that negatively impacts the place we visit, we should always consider the impact that our actions have on others and places around us.
For instance, that fleeting picture you just paid to have with a snake charmer (See more on the problems with some snake charming here) or standing with a chained monkey may seem rather insignificant in the short term but it has a much wider impact on long-term travel related problems. All these actions can have consequences and can contribute to a much wider related industry of exploitation and neglect, that as travellers, we should all be aware of.
4.) Don’t be judgemental
Like it or lump it, we all make first impressions when arriving at a new and exciting destination. That in itself isn’t bad but its very important keep in mind the impact that outright judgement has on others.
For instance, it shouldn’t matter if a fellow traveller has a fanny pack and selfie stick at the Eiffel Tower – even if they’re not your chosen accessories of choice, this person will be having a smashing time and enjoying a destination that they want to share with their friends and family, none of us have a right to judge someone over something so menial. After all, our experiences are no better or more valid than a selfie-stick waving mum trying to shoot a timeless family shot that will be a treasured family photo.
5.) Travel is personal
Thought we’d start with an obvious one here! 🙂
It’s important to realise that travel is, in so many ways, a self-serving pursuit. Taking the time to understand the motivation behind your need to travel and truly help you define what type of travel is best for you …which is exactly the type of travelling you should be doing. All the other stuff (how fancy a destination is, how close or far away it is from home, how popular it is… etc) is all just secondary to identifying what kind of travel (and destination) would make you truly happy.
6.) Embrace difference
Being a better traveller is all about embracing the beauty of the world and people we surround ourselves with. We live on a multi-cultural planet that is blessed with a mix of amazing people that are different from one place to the next. One of the biggest things that travel teaches us is to realise the importance of embracing difference – whether that’s gender, sexuality or race.
Difference is rarely bad and equality should always be embraced and promoted. By keeping to this mindset, we all have the ability to crush prejudice and drive away inequality that WILL rub off on people around you. Be an advocate for positive change and make this world a fairer place.
In so many ways, respect comes down to being positive and taking a reflective moment to understand certain places and situations. By being respectful and mindful of others, you’ll not only have much more fruitful travel experiences, you’ll also leave a particular person with positive sentiments and emotions that won’t cloud their own day. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice, pleasant and respectful.
No matter who it is, I always endeavour to speak to anyone in the same way as I’d like them to speak to my own parents – If I’m not doing that, I’ve failed!
8.) Push a boundary
Whether it’s big or small – push your own boundaries. This doesn’t mean you need to jump from a plane, base jump of the Empire State Building or eat live scorpions to prove a point but, it does mean that you should test yourself to experience some things you might say no to otherwise.
By saying yes instead of no – you open up a whole array of new travel experiences that you might not have had otherwise, which you may not always love but will ALWAYS learn from… and lets be honest, that’s what travel is all about!