After two turbulent years, many of us can once again hit the road and venture off on a long-awaited trip. The pandemic has taught us a lot and has, in many ways, transformed our perception of travel. Travellers from around the world embark on journeys with a different kind of intention now; to reconnect with people and create memorable experiences. For many of us, reconnecting is not simply about conversing with the locals, but more about finding ways to help those most affected by the pandemic.
It’s well-known that residents of many countries, cities, towns and small villages make a living from our vacations. We travel and spend, which, in turn, benefits local livelihoods and a country’s economy.
However, with the closures of borders, non-essential shops having to keep their shutters down and many small businesses having to bring their company operations to a halt, now is the time, more than ever, that they need our help.
Here’s how you can make a difference when travelling abroad:
Dine At a Local Restaurant
Goodbye Burger! Hello, local restaurants! Make no mistake, local restaurants not only have some of the most delicious local food, but they’re also more welcoming than fast food restaurant chains. If you’re after a snack or hot or cold drink, avoid places like Starbucks or Mcdonald’s and instead, head to the local patisseries and cafes. Buy freshly squeezed juice from the local vendor. Test your taste buds with mouthwatering street food! Street food is quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon as it’s cheaper and a lot tastier and fresh than the food you’ll find at restaurants.
Support Local Businesses
Aside from eating, there are many other things that you’ll spend money on when travelling. Clothes, shoes, books, and jewellery are just some examples. From time to time, local vendors tend to have higher quality items and buying through them will provide visitors with a more meaningful experience. You’ll have a one-to-one experience and will be helping in keeping these small businesses afloat. What’s more, there are some awesome bargains out there if you go and venture into one of the marketplaces next time you’re on a trip.
Promote Local Tourism
A great way of spreading the word is by telling others about your experiences when you return home. Many travellers are eager to find out ways to help when they go abroad but get lost in how to do that. Unfortunately, many people still believe that the only way to help is to give to beggars, which turns out to be one of the worst ways to help locals when travelling abroad. This article explains a great deal about why giving to begging children is counterproductive. Spread the word about the benefits of local tourism and why spending on smaller businesses helps keep a destination alive. Consider it this way; once you’re back from a place, it’s your responsibility to tell others how they can do the same.
Buy Souvenirs From Locals
Avoid buying your souvenirs from duty-free shops or any shop at the airport. Opt for antique goods and local souvenirs from independent shops instead. The service is better, the quality can be higher, the price is almost always more affordable and sometimes you may even get to see how certain souvenirs are made. I had the opportunity to see how certain coffee-making utensils were made when in Turkey and that itself caught my attention right away. For many locals, selling these goods is their only livelihood which is your money can go a long way and help put a big smile on their faces.
Hire Local Guides
This will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in all your travel experiences. In some countries around the world, I’ve hired local guides which meant that I gained access to inside knowledge and hidden gems. Hiring a local guide allows you to learn a great deal more than a guide who is from the same country as you. Local guides know local
people and they also know shortcuts. They are also a lot more affordable than hiring guides from a travel agency. Instagram and TripAdvisor have helped many find reliable and trustworthy local guides in many places around the world. With TripAdvisor and Instagram, you can simply submit a question (in the right forum!) and you’ll be supplied with contact details for reliable tour guides. By sourcing a local guide, you’d not only be helping them but their entire family, as many guides do this for a living.