Being a responsible tourist doesn’t have to be tough. Here are some small ways to rethink your impact on the places you visit and what you might take home with you.
Making a positive impact on the places we visit
The last thing any of us need to do is make a negative impact on the places we visit, vacation, or holiday in. So if you are looking to do something outdoors come prepared to take anything you might have brought with you back. No littering here! Bonus points if you actually pick up additional trash along the way.
Another sign of respect is learning a little more about the place you are visiting and understanding their culture. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For example, in Asian culture business cards are handled with two hands and with care. In America, so many business cards are exchanged we sometimes don’t even bother to look at them. How would you feel if you handed someone your reusable water bottle and they threw it on the ground and started stomping on it? It is all about perspective. Show respect for those you surround yourself with.
I manage trade shows for a living. So I have seen giveaways in all shapes and sizes. Lots of people snatch these up because they are FREE! But are they? They are costing you space and communicates to companies that you want more items like it so they order more. Stop and think, do I really WANT or NEED this? Do I need another pen? Another flimsy plastic sling bag? I am happy to report that I am starting to see less and less of these at shows. And the ones I am seeing are starting to look a little more sustainable, like metal straws shown above! But even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing so take stock and decide if it should go home with you.
What’s worse than taking home something you don’t need? Paying for something you don’t need. We have all done it, convinced ourselves we needed this one item to remember the experience. In some cases that makes sense but more often than not, you are purchasing something you will regret as soon as you get home. I look to take home something I know I will use or value, like Christmas ornaments that remind me of a visit somewhere. Otherwise I take lots of photos to document the experience as my take away.
If you have to bring something back for a friend or family consider a getting them something they can experience themselves like a fine wine or food item. Gifting another shirt or keychain will most likely end up as trash. And can you blame them for not wanting to wear a shirt that they get asked what it was like to visit that location? It was your experience, not theirs so really consider if you should gift something or not.
A friend shared this great article, Please stop buying plastic crap for kids. We are all guilt of it, I used to spend lots of time searching for a great gift for my nephews to bring back with me. But they are too young to understand what traveling even really means and don’t understand what it had to do with them. So I stopped doing it, and started trying to find ways to spend time with them. Even to this day, my nephew tells me how much he loved that I took him to a Cardinals football game. Your kids want to spend time with you, not stuff.
In summary, enjoy your vacation and/or trip to somewhere new but consider if you really need to take something home with you. Is it worth your time and possibly your money?