Our tips for mindful travelers
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible” - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
This is one of our favourite quotes.
Which kind of snowflake are you going to be? The one that says “it's not my fault”? The one who feels small, insignificant and therefore has no chance to affect change?
In that case... Wakey-wakey!! It is time to change the way in which we need to think about the world and be that snowflake that says “I am not part of this, I stand up for something better, I stand up for a world left better and not worse because of me”.
"Many small people who in many small places do many small things that can alter the face of the World". East-Side Gallery, Berlin.
So there are many standard tips related to specific cultural issues in Asia you may already be familiar with (dress code in places like temples, removing shoes... and so on). Let's focuse then on some tips for you to be environmentally, socially and economically friendly when you are abroad, although some of them can be put into practice in your own place of residence too:
- Please ensure you don’t leave any waste behind you, not only on pristine environments but also on areas which are not particularly that clean. If there is no bin or proper place to put the rubbish, then just take it back with you. You can definitely make a positive influence on other people in this regard. Only leave your footprints!
- “Toy rowm lay tooy nee long” is the phonetic Vietnamese for “I don’t take plastic bags”. If you buy from locals, please refuse plastic bags as much as possible. You are acting responsibly and raising awareness by doing so.
- Reduce you energy needs. Most rural houses are not equipped with high-power systems, so remember to turn off lights, unplug chargers when they have accomplished their mission, minimize the use of hot water and be in general conscious of water usage.
- Use a reusable water bottle. We need to stop using plastic bottles ASAP. Please, make some research in case you still need to figure out why. Especially in those destinations where the 3 Rs (Reduce, Recycle, Reuse) are unfortunately not that common yet, we should try to reduce our waste to a minimum.
- Buy local, eat local, go local. Either if you are in Asia, Europe, America, Africa, Oceania or The North Pole. There are so many benefits to this behaviour! Globalization has certainly its advantages, but not on this matter. Here localization shall prevail over globalization. Go local, think global.
- Protect wildlife. Whether it is riding elephants, taking selfies with tigers or performing any show with any kind of animal, are you aware of how much they suffer and about the process, methods and instruments used to get them into submission? And no, an industry based upon the use and abuse of wild animals has no place in either the education or entertainment of our children. Luckily, many travel companies have already banned ticket sales to this sort of activities, but the reality is that if there are still many travel companies around the world making profit from some of the cruellest types of wildlife tourist attractions, it is because there is demand. And where is demand, there will be supply. In this case, we are also one of those snowflakes that says “I am not part of this”. How about you?
- Take public transport whenever is possible. Share the load and avoid unnecessary carbon emissions. This will also add experience and opportunities to interact with locals during your trip.
- It feels very nice going off the beaten path for most of us, but we shouldn't definitely apply this when hiking, since that may mean that we are trampling on endangered or protected plants (among other things). You will barely listen to us saying this, but in this case... please, go along the marked trails.
- Choose attractions, hotels, tour companies by considering which one is locally-owned, which one contributes the most to the local economy, which one is more environmentally responsible. Smaller groups tend to have less environmental impact. Ask what size the group will be and why not also ask how the operator gives back to the communities you will be visiting (Hi! Handspan we will be happy to count on travellers/explorers/wanderers concerned in this regard!).
- Truly open your mind to other cultures and traditions. It will transform your experience, you will earn knowledge and be more readily welcomed by local people.
- Please remember to “Respect and Adapt”. Sometimes you will be a stranger in a fragile environment and micro-society and especially in these cases, counting on an experienced local guide will help you to understand and make the most of your experience.
- Your activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage.
- Learn as much as you can from the destination that you will visit so that you can get an overview about the customs, norms and traditions, avoiding behaviours that could offend the local population.
- The best way to explore the countryside and interact with your host community is going on foot or by bike. Trekking will also allow to get yourself immersed in the place and culture. Go human-powered!
- Don't be afraid to bargain. Just pay always a fair price. Both over enthusiastic bargaining or over generosity have negative effects.
- Practice random acts of kindness. From giving a smile, to holding a door open for someone. These small acts of kindness are universal and create a ripple effect that can carry from person to person. It is very easy to bring some light into the life of others!
We will appreciate your feedback. Comments about sustainability and responsible travel are more than welcome, so tell us how you feel and how we can improve.
And spread the ideals of an awakened snowflake! Help to promote responsible travel and experiences by talking to your family and friends. Word of mouth and social networks are the Great Green Channels!