Be selfie aware to be a good tourist
One way to get a bad name as a tourist is to be disrespectful when it comes to when and where you take selfies. That goes from being disrespectful to other tourists around you (i.e. putting up a selfie stick in front of someone else’s camera, or hogging a perfect Instagram spot for 20 minutes while you pose at slightly different angles). To being disrespectful of your surroundings (i.e. taking selfies at memorials or in front of items or places that specifically say no photos). If you’re unsure of selfie etiquette, check out this roundup or the dos and don’ts of selfies when it comes to travelling.
Keep in mind that you’re visiting a new place, they have different customs than you’re used to. Pick up on social cues as you travel, and research before your trip to be a good tourist. Know what is considered offensive in a new destination to save both you, and the locals, from any awkward moments. Also keep in mind that some destinations just move at a different pace. The bustle of NYC is not the same pace as a Caribbean island, so go with the local flow.
Be as sustainable as possible
Five years ago, sustainability may not have been a key word when it came to every day travel. These days though, it’s so important to be aware of your environmental footprint when you plan a vacation if you want to be a good tourist. Try to make little compromises while travelling to help offset your footprint. Bring your own environmentally-friendly toiletries rather than using the mini versions at hotels. Opt for green-hotels, or hotels that have a green pledge. Walk and take public transport as much as possible. Bring reusable coffee and water containers and your own reusable shopping bag. Ditch using straws wherever you go, or even better, bring your own reusable version. Small changes can have a big impact.
Learn some local language
Just a few basics are needed to show locals you’ve taken some time to learn about their way of life. More often than not, people are more helpful if they hear you trying to use the local language.
Keep politics at home
You never know where someone stands on their political views, so it’s often better to not bring up the most recent debate (or in these times the most recent tweet a president had made). Learning and understanding a new way of life is always appreciated, but imposing one’s views on someone else usually doesn’t end well, for anyone in the conversation.
Visit the key spots AND off-the-beaten-path spots
It’s always great to check off those must-see places. They’re popular for a reason, because they are worthy of a visit! But it’s a good idea to explore outside of the major hot spots too. It may bring you to a smaller spots that don’t get a lot of visitors and could create really authentic experiences. And it also gives you an opportunity to shop local, which is always a stellar idea and mentioned in the next point!
Whenever and wherever you can, look to support local businesses. Whether that be a local cafe that’s off the beaten path, or a restaurant that is not on a resort property, supporting those smaller, local, family-owned and operated businesses will have an impact on the areas you’re visiting more than you think.
Don’t always do AirBnB
Vacation rentals and home rentals have never been more popular, and we definitely agree it is a good way to feel more like a local when visiting a destination. But we’re also huge fans of hotels. Hotels provide jobs for the destination (on all levels of employment), and the staff can offer a lot of insight on local attractions, food and so much more. If you’re not into bigger corporations and that keeps you from booking hotels, go for a smaller, family-run boutique option. They’re more unique, still provide jobs within the community, and you’ll feel good knowing you’re supporting a local economy and not a big chain. Lately we’ve been fans of splitting our time between apartment rentals and hotels… and an added bonus of a hotel? Everything is taken care of, and after all you’re on vacation!