How to be on the good side of traveling?

Travel can mean many things. Everyone travels for their own reasons and it brings different effects to everyone. As I see the reasons and effects can be good, bad or meaningless, but I guess they must be inevitable. I have lived my entire life on the move, adding labels for different approaches to give an explanation to different people. But I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. Looking at life in a personalized way I decided to make the world my home without labels. It took some time to realize that I am not trying to get away from anything. Not escaping but going on journeys of discovery. I go for the cultural and local experiences. I go to get inspired. To get out of comfort zone, to get closer to life and myself. Experiences, inside and outside. Step-by-step self-exploration journeys. The biggest impact travel can have is that it can broaden the mind, putting into perspective the idea of ‘me’ and the universe. Realizing that how small our planet is makes it easier to see that everything is connected to everything. Leaving no other choice but to be more conscious and appreciate more.

As travel (hopefully) creates a positive impact for ourselves, we should strive to do the same thing for the places we visit, but at least we must try to do the less harm. As we are living at a time when more and more people hit the road everyday than ever before our responsibility is much bigger. Today it is very hard to find anyone who doesn’t want to travel and be a part-time local. Tourism crush around the world spoiling the character of the beauty spots. Overcrowded tourist attractions, streets and infrastructures. Raising house costs. Eroding quality of life and driving residents out. Environment damages, destruction, anti-tourism protests ... we are all part of the problem of “overtourism”. 

Travel and tourism become one of the world’s largest industries and have an important impact on development of a country’s economy. For many regions and countries it is almost the only one source of welfare. Money gained from tourism can be used to develop, to preserve and to protect. Next to the positive social, cultural, economic and environmental impact of this industry there are many negative ones too. Ego-warriors are everywhere to generate confusions with their dishonest words and pictures. Not only first timers following their marketing and fearing of missing out. Chasing other’s footpaths for a selfie with a hope to find something satisfactory, but see nothing. Making right decision won’t always be easy. Somebody is always unsatisfied. So there is always a question mark, are you helping or hindering? But the important thing is that we, consumers,  have a choice in any form of tourism to improve and generate greater benefits. Minimize negative impacts through our actions. Become a more ethical, responsible traveller and make the travel community more positive impactful.

I believe in slow travel, spending more time in fewer places, making the most of each experience in a deeper sense. First of all for myself, because almost nobody else might care about what you have done or wants to hear what you saw. That envy-inducing moment was your unique experience. This is your journey, but don’t be selfish. It is also an opportunity to give something back in exchange what you get and learn during your stay.

What do I do?

  1. Choose destinations carefully.

  2. Stay long-term.

  3. Read quality books | journalism.

  4. Watch films, documentaries from or about the country | region | place before or during our travel part of my lot of research.

  5. Do a list and a map which gives a chance to connect the dots easier when I am actually there.

  6. Follow my nose. Just go and get lost.

  7. Learn few essential words in the local language.

  8. Collect meaningful memories. Take them as photos and notes as a souvenirs.

  9. Put my money where it can have the most impact.

  10. Visit local, responsible markets | businesses.

  11. Buy only the authentic, necessary, quality things. Purchase of locally made craft ensures your more direct and positive impact to the economy.

  12. Eat local | seasonal food at a locally run place. Only order as much as I can eat.

  13. Be sensitive to fair pricing. Buyer and seller both should leave satisfied and pleased.

  14. Use public transport whenever possible.

  15. Fly less often. The more times you take off, the more fuel you use, so I prefer nonstop flights. When it is possible I chose airlines very carefully.

  16. Walk, as much as possible. Keeping in mind safety and common sense.

  17. Choose accommodation very carefully. Informations can be misleading.

  18. Take a trip if it’s adds significant value to the experience.

  19. Off-the-beaten-track means sometimes not participating in activities that harms the environment, the animals and the local community.

  20. Do my best to avoid overly crowded areas.

  21. Book tours which directly benefit the local community and promote sustainable practices. Protect and support.

  22. I use energy, water and other resources only when necessary. Behave more like at home.

  23. Don’t litter. Taking care of my own rubbish. Reduce it to the minimum. Be aware of the regional waste management. Recycle whenever possible.

  24. Be aware of sustainability.

  25. Using environmental friendly products to minimize my impact.

  26. Leave my preconceptions behind.

  27. Be respectful for locals, cultures and traditions. Remember that everyone is different, not better or worse.

  28. Avoid offensive behavior, especially in regard to clothing, traditions and taboos.

  29. Be curious, foster authentic interaction. Listen well to all points of view.

  30. Be satisfied with the local economy can provide.

  31. Keep in mind, anger never earns the respect of locals.

  32. Try my best, be in the moment everytime. Appreciate it as it is. Go with the flow in a calm way, with a smile on my face :-)

  33. Use internet (social media, emails) for good. Having a break from it (actually every day once in a while) allows me to better enjoy the here and now.

  34. Learn from my experiences to promote greater understanding.

We make mistakes. We just need to be honest, at least with ourselves, to do a bit of good in the process. It’ all about trying to make smarter choices that help mitigate the harm we create along the way.
Travel shouldn’t be to check off destinations, a driver of consumption with all the social and environmental stresses that creates. It should be a time to pause and connect. A genuine desire to experience and grow.
Every day is a journey. Travel can be part of your daily life. In your neighborhood with it’s positive effects without jet lag.  A series of surprises, a life-changing encounter could be waiting in every corner. Just keep open minds and hearts to get inspired.

Portugal gives me a feeling and comfort of home. This is one of those places where I want to be, where I go to completely recharge all my batteries. I spend time mainly on the coastline. I choose different base there and make small, slow trips around it. In this month I collected memories from Alentejo region beaches.

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