15 Dec Simple Rules for Intentional Travel
This is the first guest post by Ingrid Hannan for our new series by – and for – intentional travelers. Stay tuned for more of her stories and reflections on exploring the world in a sensitive, uplifting way.
Ingrid with a family in Northeastern India. Conversation on a street corner evolved into a home cooked meal and meeting the entire family.
While exploring Asia for the first time this past spring, I couldn’t help but categorize locals into two distinct groups: people who seemed happy and interested in me (the foreigner) and people who weren’t. As I thought and talked about the patterns to this phenomenon, it became clearer that the more touristy and popular a place was, the less likely locals were to be friendly. Their welcome mats had been worn thin. Not a surprise. But it made me defensive nonetheless. But I’m not just some rich, self-absorbed white girl looking for a party! Couldn’t they tell?
No. They couldn’t tell. Because to get beyond a looks-only judgment of a person usually requires, well, more than a quick superficial interaction. Shocking, I know.
Within a week of my multiple month excursion, I grew frustrated with wanting to prove to locals that I was a different kind of traveler. So I observed and talked with fellow travelers who seemed to be digging in, moving smoothly, and having an overall deeper experience. And I scrawled some notes into the journal I was carrying with me. The list is not a panacea to bad tourist habits; it’s not the only means possible to leaving a lighter cultural footprint, it’s not a cure-all. But I think it’s a good start. If you’re thinking about heading off on a wild adventure to place you’ve never been, whether the first or hundredth time, I think these are some simple ideas that can frame the trip in a positive and challenging and intentional way.
Simple Rules to Lighten Your Cultural Footprint
- Learn (at least some of) the language
- Smile and greet people according to local custom
- Avoid resorts
- Stay a while
- Be respectful
- Spread the wealth
- Ignore the party scene
- Shift focus from taking to giving
- Go for a walk
- Befriend locals
Stay tuned for more great stories and reflections as Ingrid digs deeper into each of these important points.
About Ingrid: Ingrid is a wanderlust at heart. She’s lived all up and down the west coast, studying environmental science and Spanish at the University of Portland and studying how to grow vegetables in Colorado and Washington. Her favorite activities include rock climbing, eating ice cream, and writing letters. Her travels have taken her from the Caribbean to East Asia and many destinations inbetween. The next places she hopes to travel to are New Zealand, Japan, and Norway.
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