A is for Ambassador- Your GTG’s guide on how to represent
Greetings globetrotters and welcome to the latest stop on our travel phillosphy caravan. Thanks again to Naoko for sharing her thoughts with us last week and I hope you’ve all got you’re kitchens ready for our Japanese cook-off. This week we tackle perhaps the most fundamental element of our GTG ethos. Specifically, we are referring to the idea that when we travel we leave an impression with locals, other travellers and even our own country people whether we like it or not. Being aware of this fact gives us the power to influence it and leave an impression that we can look back upon as fondly as the rest of our trip.Travel blogs, guide books, info web sites, in fact any decent travel resource these days will hint at this kind of issue, it’s a thing people.
So how exactly does this happen?
Good question, at the usuall risk of placing subjective values where they should mind their own business, here are a few pointers…
Ways people leave a bad impression
- Being rude to locals or expecting 5 star service as a visitor from a more priviledged country.
- Arguing over small amounts of money that may make a massive difference to the person receiving the cash, but not so much to the person with the cash.
- Being loud and offensive (kinda like people you might run into on a night out at 3am at home but on a trip you can see them at all hours of the day).
- Not following local protocol e.g. no footwear in some buildings or certain areas of your body should be convered etc.
- Accepting freebies from others at a hostel and not bringing anything to the table yourself (ok so we all love to save but…).
- Skipping town before paying the bill at small local establishments.
- Drawing too much attention to yourself (well unless you wanted to visit a zoo where you’re the main attraction you may find this means you experience less on your trip).
- Taking photos of people without asking their permission
- Criticising the local culture loudly, AKA “that would never happen at home!”…
Ways to leave a good impression
- Smile at local people even if you’re not sure how to greet them in words.
- Learn people’s names where possible.
- Learn some greetings in the language of where you’re visiting.
- Offer to volunteer somewhere if you have time.
- Learn about the local holiday that may have co-incided with your trip.
- Learn some interesting, little-known facts about our home countries to share with people if they ask.
- Take some small gifts (what you can afford) to pass on at appropriate moments. Class supplies like stationary make a perfect example and can always be put to good use.
Well there we have a few ideas how to take the douche out of travel (bandanas not normally advised either) but the more difficult part is recognising when you have crossed the line. We all know how many things can happen in a moment but you may have the odd chance to think quick and save yourself a face-full of egg 🙂 Feel free to add your own ideas to the list or comment using the form below 🙂 Untill next week.