When I was in secondary school, teachers would often reprimand us for littering or allowing dirt and dust to settle in our classroom.
“Would you throw this candy wrapper on the floor at home?”
“Your classroom is your home at school!”
Most of the times it gets shrugged off, because guess what? We’re not at home. And we were kids.
But that’s the kind of thing that follows you into adulthood. If you never learn to treasure your surroundings, you end up treating the whole world as a trash can.
It’s far worse for tourists and travelers to have that mentality though, imagine going to a new country and forgetting that what is a novelty to you, is a home to others.
How do you travel responsibly?
TREAT THE WORLD AS YOUR HOME
And here are a few simple tips:
1. WHAT’S THEIR CULTURE? RESPECT THEIR LAWS & CUSTOMS Before going to a new country or even booking that ticket, do your research. Watch a movie to learn their habits and study their colloquialisms.
Our world is filled with a colorful tapestry of customs and traditions. It’s always good to be prepared.
In other words, you can choose to be a person who does fine dining like a barbarian or as a refined human being with the proper etiquette. That choice is clearly yours, but it would be nice if we can extend respectful courtesy to our international brothers and sisters, which, in turn, makes the world a more welcoming place.
2. RESPONSIBLE WILDLIFE TOURISM – YES, IT’S A THING I never knew about this until I starting working for Project Orangutan and I was a self proclaimed animal lover.
Zoos used to be a favorite of mine. Then I discovered that zoos are the worst place you could possibly go to see any animal. It’s up there with circuses, elephant rides, tiger selfies and other exploitative industries including wildlife trade.
If you’re paying money to interact with an exotic creature, it’s generally a warning sign. This is because wildlife should remain wild, feeding them or getting too close might alter its natural behavior and we don’t want that.
3. YOU’RE NOT A SPOILT CHILD, SO PLEASE DON’T ACT LIKE ONE You’ve seen the news reports and you’ve turned your nose up in disgust. From the ‘ugly Americans’ syndrome in the 60s to the rise of its Chinese counterpart in recent years have people scrambling over themselves to draw a thick black line to distinguish travelers from tourists.
The truth is, everyone has a natural tendency to be self-centered. It is only human. But this may lead to a sense of entitlement; wanting what you want when you want it, kicking up a fuss to get your way.
- I have been on the receiving end of senior citizens who expect youths to treat them like the kings that they are and allow them to cut queues, amongst other things.
- I have seen an elegant man quibble condescendingly with his waiter over his meal and I’ve learnt to watch how I treat the waitstaff, for it shows the kind of person you really are.
- I have also witnessed parents watch as their children desecrate public areas without batting an eye.
No, the world does not belong to you.
Tread gently and live lightly. Our time is borrowed and this planet shared. Let us leave the world as we found it and don’t, for goodness’ sake, be a hindrance to others.
Have any other tips to add? Please don’t keep it to yourself, share it below! 😊