Thursday, December 3, 2015

10 ways to be a thoughtful guest on your travels

Everytime I tell people that I live in Goa, I get back an amazed " people actually live in Goa? "It's hard to imagine our tourist destinations; the places of verdant greenery, pale sands and placid lakes being anything but places of brief moments of respite from everyday life rather than places where people may actually have to tolerate and sometimes even suffer because of our travels.

We love to plan parties, we love to entertain, we love to hold house parties; but everyone hates to clean up after the party. The broken glassware, the wine stain on the carpet, or worse , on the white sofa! The hangover , the dirty dishes, the smell of puke which you are not quite sure where it's coming from. Yes, these are the times you wish your guests had been a little more thoughtful.

Now, imagine the same scenario but on a much bigger scale, that's what is happening to our heritage sites, our beautiful beaches our wild life sanctuaries.

 It's time to be the guest who cleans up before he leaves, because let's face it guys, don't we all love to invite such thoughtful guests again and again for our parties, It's time for responsible tourism.

So how can we be responsible guests, simple think of your travel places as someone's home

1. Greet your hosts: Greet the airport staff, the Visa authorities and spare a smile for the bathroom attendant as well. We expect everyone to smile and greet us when on our holiday, but we tend to forget that while we are on our annual holiday, for all of them it's just another dsay at work. It's 4 in the morning and he looks up to find a surpentine queue of travellers yet for the passport check, it can't be fun for the airport staff. a kind "hello how are you doing? good day" may actually make hi  actually mean it when he says the next "welcome to the country and hope you have a pleasant stay. "

2. Hotel staff appreciate this more than tips: most hotels, even the more posh ones now have notices in the room about conservation of water. If you want your towels washed then leave on the floor, otherwise just hang them back. if you want a change of bedding then let the house keeping know, otherwise you could just ask them to make the bed. I rememeber the first few glimpses of Shimla many years ago, even as we entered the hillstation, rows upon rows of white linen from the surrounding hotels were being dried in the sun, while the rivers flowed with soapy suds. Clean sheets are wonderful, but fresh laundered linen EVERYDAY of your stay is a luxury the planet cannot afford.
Earlier bathtub soaks were holiday luxuries we used to indulge in almost twice a day during our stay, but the collosal amount of water to fill the bath tubs had us cutting down on our needless wastage of water.Ask the hotels if they recycle their water, opt for hotels which follow sustainanble living and help in local communities.

3. food lovers a word of advice: I used to love buffets, and load my plate up high, the only problem was, I never reaally finished all of it. It's fine to hear mom say "think of the kids in Somalia" while at home, but on a holiday, that's just a buzz kill. Then in Singapore I saw the sign that they would charge extra for the food you wasted on your plates! As a food blogger i try and rationalise that if i dont try everything, how will I tell my readers that the lemon tart is better than the chococlate pie? sharing is caring. when with a group of friends, just share from each others plates, pack doggy bags and give the food to your driver, or even people on the street. waste not , want not.

4. smokers be aware: public smoking may be banned in many places and yet, what is considered a norm on 'work days' is completely forgotten when travelling or on holiday. cigarette butts are found at every train station, bus route, airport, and even in the deepest darkest jungles. If it bothers you , one can always ask others to not smoke infront of you, passive smoking is a reality- and so are it's dangers. I feel smokers should carry their cigarette butts back as well, grinding it into the soil is not getting rid of the evidence!

5. Talli tolerance: It's funny how we may call for a cab to take us back home, when we are 'not on our travels' but once on holiday all rules are forgotten. Goa has a large number of drunken driving accidents, and new years bash sees an escalated number of revellers recklessly taking to the roads in their open jeeps, and fast bikes. risking not only your life but also that of innocent bystanders is not the best way to ring in the year. Call for a cab, have a designated driver, or hire a car, you deserve to enjoy, but responsibilities dont stop when you are on holiday.

6. Dress appropriaately: I rememebr my brother and dad were asked to wear colourful wrap around sarongs to cover up their bare legs, as they wore shorts to the temples in Thailand. Even in Rome, the churches ask for modest dressing. Many temples in India do not allow skirts or even denims. Carry a shawl wherever you travel or read up about the places you wish to visit. Merging in, and conforming to a places social etiquette makes you closer to the people of the place as well as a richer understanding of the culture. covering your head in the gurudwara, and wearing an abaya in a mosque can be interesting life experiences while travelling rather than forced regulations. change the way you perceive the world, and the world will perceive you differently.

7. lets not litter: This is a given, and yet we do it unintentionally. Dont throw the travel tickets, the bus pases, the hotel vouchers, the travel brochures; all of these can be stuck in a scrapbook to make a great collection of your travels. The wrist bands at music concerts can some day be a treasured item from your past, rather than junk thrown by the roadside.

8. fight against grafitti: Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for Mumtaz, so every man in India believes he has the right to proclaim his love, if not by building a Taj Mahal, but atleast signing his and his wife/girlfriend/lovers initials on heritage sites. it makes me wonder, here is a man who would never buy a hallmark card, or buy a bouquet of flowers, but just because it is free, has no qualms in gifting his wife the red fort by writing ' R loves S' or plucking flowers from the public garden and giving it to her.

grafitti museum in IStanbul

9. No to noise: It's easy to forget that other people are around us when we are having fun in our own great group. loud laughter, cracking jokes, dancing to music, who doesnt like it? But someone else may be hoping to have a quiet romantic evening with their spouse, or family time with their kids, your laughter and music is NOT fun for them. when out in a big group we ask for a table away from the crowds, opt for outdoor seating, and try and not disturb others around. I am sure we would appreciate the same from other rambunctious groups.
dongancay museum istanbul

10. Dont just take, give back: As house guests to someone's home, we always take a little something as a token of gratitude and our appreciation. It's not just ettiquette, but also something for our hosts to rememebr us by. Give to local organisations, even paying the road toll is your way of helping the place you visit. Many countries, places survive on tourism, and for many it is their livelihood, appreciate that. I always try and leave comments in the comment books in museums, and heritage sites. Our comments are our way of showing our appreciation. Travel websites also welcome reviews and it is a a part of our responsibility as members of this ever growing band of world travellers to make it easier for our fellow travellers and those who come after us to have as great a time as we had, or an even better time. travel advice or tips that I share on my blog or on travel sites, help others make informed decisions and get the maximum out of their travel as well as highlights some of the good people that I might have met at the diferent travel destinations; my way of giving something back.

“I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda”  

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