Many destinations suffered from over-tourism and while some destinations also suffered from the lack of tourism, others took this year to heal. At times, travel intentions have shifted, we no longer travel to just be inspired and educated. Many of us visit countries just to have a box checked on our bucket list or to take that one perfect picture. Travelling is no longer a privilege, but a right we think we have.
2021 will most likely be the year we are allowed to travel again. We can pick up our bucket list where we left off, or reconsider our intentions and try to travel in a more conscious way. Being genuinely curious about the destination and realizing what’s important for us while traveling.
Be genuinely curious about the destination
Do your homework before getting into that airplane, train or car. Watch documentaries about the country, whether it’s about politics, the cuisine, or habits and traditions. Read a book, online articles, or local news. If you have friends who originated from there, ask about their memories, their thoughts on certain topics and their recommendations. Upon arrival, try to be respectfully curious. Visit locally run places. Ask the waiter in the restaurant what the traditional dishes are and give them a try. When cooking yourself, go to the market and buy vegetables that are typical for the area. You will probably learn something new! Not only will you support the locals, but at the same time show respect to the country you visit. You will come back with unique stories and experiences to share.
You don’t have to see everything
One of the most obvious changes to make to be a more conscious tourist is to limit the flights and trips you take per year. Alternate trips requiring a flight ticket, with alternatives just across the border reachable by car or train.
When flying, ask yourself what you really want to do and see during your time there, rather than just visiting a place for the sake of seeing it. Did you visit all the tourist attractions in your home country? If your answer is ‘no’ then ask yourself why you think you should visit them during a trip abroad. Travel because you want to learn and explore. Focus on what’s important for you. And if you just want to relax, please do so. Once you start to appreciate the sunsets, the homecooked meals, the morning sun rays, the conversations you had with strangers and the beautiful landscapes, you will be a better, more conscious tourist. Enjoy the beautiful place you are in. Because it really is a privilege.
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