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Mindful Travelling: How to be respectful and responsible on your trip

Travelling mindfully doesn’t mean having to compromise on your holiday enjoyment.

Going on holiday doesn’t equate to 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 both respectfully and 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 offense whilst you’re away.

Did you know that in 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 toward someone.

Planning ahead and researching your destination will help you stay culturally sensitive and reduce the likelihood of you ending up in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

Find out the local tipping customs

If you’ve been overseas before, you’ll know the confusion that can come along with being on holiday and not knowing quite how much to tip.

In the US, tipping in restaurants often comes included in your bill, and tipping your barman, tour guide, and pretty much anyone that gives you a service is more than expected. In other countries such as China and Japan, tipping is pretty much non-existent. Some cultures even consider it rude.

So don’t assume, research before you go and avoid committing a social faux pas.

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, utilising 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 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 the 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

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.

Research money etiquette

Being responsible extends to looking after yourself too! 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.