Going on vacation doesn’t mean throwing your good manners out of the window and acting in a way that you wouldn’t at home.
Here’s how you can travel responsibly and still have the trip of a lifetime.
Learn about the culture
Before you travel, it always pays to learn a little bit about the local culture and traditions of the place that you’re visiting. Not only will it potentially save you from future embarrassment, but you might learn something that actually stops you from causing offence while you’re away. Did you know that in Greece and Bulgaria, nodding your head means ‘no’ and shaking your head means ‘yes’? And in Vietnam, crossing your fingers (like we would for luck) is actually just about the most offensive gesture you can make towards someone.
Find out the local tipping customs
We all know that in the US, tipping your waitress, barman and driver is more than expected, but it’s different all over the world. In the UK, a tip is roughly 10% of your bill (more if you’re particularly happy with the service) but ultimately, it’s an optional charge and it’s fine not to leave one. In other countries such as China and Japan, tipping is pretty much non-existent. It’s just not a part of the culture.
Pick up some language basics
You don’t need to be fluent in the local language to have a good time, but putting a little bit of effort into learning a few words or phrases can go a long way. Even if you just learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local lingo, it’s sure to be appreciated by everyone from waiters to hotel staff. What’s more, if you plan to hire a car on your trip, think about learning some of the important words on the road signs, so that you don’t get yourself into any trouble!
Try to use local services
Another great way that you can help is to make sure that you use local services on your trip. This means staying in locally run hotels, utilizing the knowledge of local tour guides, and enjoying locally run restaurants and shops wherever possible. Doing this means that your money goes right back into helping the country that you’re visiting to build its economy.
Think about the environment
Hordes of tourists can often spell disaster for the environment, so try to do your little bit to help. Try not to leave air conditioning on all day and night in your hotel room, and remember to turn off lights when you’re not there. Don’t flush toilet paper if it’s not the local way to do it, and don’t waste unnecessary water. If you’re visiting a natural habitat or a national park, don’t stray off of the set routes, disturb wildlife or trample paths. All of these things can make a real difference.
Protect yourself with travel insurance
Being responsible extends to looking after yourself too! It’s always worth picking up some travel insurance before you head off on your trip, getting cover on everything from your health to your luggage. It doesn’t have to be expensive – some good places to start are Insureandgo and Money Supermarket.
Research money etiquette
Before your trip, try to do a little research on all things money, working out if your destination operates in cash or card. You don’t want to rely on using your card, only to arrive and find that ATMs aren’t widely available and that paying by cash is the way that things are done. You can either order your foreign currency online before your trip and take it with you, or pick up a Travelex Money Card and use it everywhere that you see the MasterCard® logo.
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