As we all know, traveling can be so addicting and fulfilling! One of the most fulfilling parts is being able to share the cultures of the world with those who get to experience it every day, and having the chance to form friendships with people who live so beautifully different (but also in many ways, so similarly) to us. That being said, it’s also important when traveling to remember that you are a visitor in someone’s country. Someone’s home. You know how when you go to somebody’s house you try to be on your best behavior? Do that, but more. They are sharing so much with you, it’s only fair to give at least a little bit back. So…here are a few ways to give back while you’re traveling that are sure to make every journey the most perfect and mutually-beneficial journey possible.
Travel with Acanela
Did you know that each Acanela trip is designed around an artisan(s) in a foreign nation? Our artisans include women with families who are battling against poverty, men who have faced challenges of disaster or disease, and individuals who have never had the opportunity to receive a formal education. Our artisans have incredible talents and abilities in diverse areas such as culinary arts, outdoor & adventure, art & design - but lack the resources to share those talents with the world. Our mission is to discover these men and women, help them develop as individuals & leaders, and empower them to build their own sustainable business enterprises. So every time you travel with us, you help make an impact on the world for good.
No matter where you go, you’re likely to hear that if you want to eat great food while traveling, just ask the locals. This is so, so true! Not only is it usually cheaper than many of the ‘tourist traps’ and chain restaurants, but you’ll also get the most authentic, traditional food at the best quality. It also directly contributes to helping local businesses, their employees, and the farmers who provide the fresh local ingredients! One huge thing that people in every culture love sharing is their cuisine. What better way to bond with locals and get to learn about their culture than over food?
Have you ever been wandering up and down the streets of a small village somewhere, staring in awe at all of the amazing art, pottery, and jewelry you see with the artists standing there right behind the tables excitedly teaching people about their creations? Next time, make sure that you stop by a few of them to pick up some souvenirs for your loved ones and of course, for yourself. These presents will be so much more special because they’re almost guaranteed to be handmade. Shopping local also helps to support local artisans. It provides a perfect opportunity to share other cultures’ art with our friends and educate them about where it came from. Plus, think about it…would you rather buy a rubber keychain with your name on it or a bracelet with hand-painted beads made from the wood of a tree that’s native to that specific area you’re visiting? While we’re on the topic of shopping local…
Please, please pay fair. I get it, it’s tempting to save money any chance you can and it can get especially tempting to barter while you’re away on vacation, but next time stop to think about what the couple of extra dollars you’re trying to save could do for the artisan. For you, it’s a coffee, but for them it could be dinner for their family. Many people will in fact be happy to shave off some of the price for you, but remember that they’re also workers too and they price their items based on the value that they recognize in their skill!
Another great way to give back to the community that you’re staying in is to donate! Donations of money here and there (tip your server/cleaning staff/etc.) may not seem like a lot to you, but it could mean the world for the people you give it to! As for tipping your server though, do some research ahead of time because there are some countries where it’s considered rude to tip! Donating items is another small way you can give back! On family trips when I was younger, my parents would make a point of getting to know the hotel staff so that they could buy small useful gifts for them and their family, and I’ll never forget how appreciative the staff would be. Also, if you want to do even more to help out, donate your time! Plenty of local villages, organizations, and schools are always looking for people to help out with things like building, clean-up, and even teaching! There are so many organizations that facilitate missions trips, but just make sure to do your research on the organizations to make sure they’re legitimate and charitable!
Avoid Large Chain Hotels & Resorts
It may be tempting to stay at more well-known hotels when you’re in an unfamiliar country, but trust me when I say that it’s almost always better to stay in local accommodations instead. For one, unfortunately, larger chains will overcharge you (and underpay staff), and much of this money doesn’t actually stay in the country that you’re visiting. Local accommodations on the other hand are reasonably priced and locally owned, so you can be confident that the money you’re investing in the country stays there! Also, is there a better way to get fully immersed in the culture than staying right in the heart of the city? You’ll have the perfect opportunity to get to know the locals and be surrounded by beautiful traditional architecture that is adorned with stunning artwork!
This really should go without saying, but do your part to save the planet! So many countries are heavily experiencing the impacts of climate change. Some are experiencing earthquakes and tsunamis, while others are being faced with wildfires or even active volcanoes. Any little thing you do to help (recycling, cleaning up after yourself, not interfering with the native animals, plants or landscapes, and even packing lighter) could make a big difference! Remember, we only have one Earth to call our own. We need to take care of Her, no matter where we are!
Not only does traveling give you the perfect opportunity to see everything that this world has to offer, but tourism is also a huge industry in a lot of countries. Just like your hometown might have “Support local!” posters up everywhere, the same goes when you’re on vacation. Traveling and supporting their local businesses and artisans helps boost the country’s economy on a huge scale! Plus, you get to make some amazing friends, try delicious food, get some unique souvenirs, and make some rich and vivid memories that will last you a lifetime. Really, tourism can be a huge win-win scenario as long as everyone does their part!
Join us in becoming an Acanela Expeditioner and experience A Better Trip For A Better World!
Written by Mackenzie Douglas