Whether you prefer backpacking through rural mountain ranges or laying out on beaches at all-inclusive resorts, every traveler has a preferred method of burning through accrued PTO.
Regardless of where you go and what you do, traveling allows a wanderlust-stricken individual to soak in new cultures and connect with locals. However, many people don’t fully understand the devastating impact select tourist activities have on the local communities.
At its best, your tourism can mean job creation and first-hand education of new cultures. On the other side of the spectrum, negative impacts of tourism can include the destruction of natural resources and loss of local cultural identity. Yet, despite the destructive forces of reckless tourism, It’s easy to breeze in and out of vacation destinations without a second thought to the neighborhoods and natural areas you’ve engaged with.
Fortunately, practicing responsible travel has become more prevalent in recent years, urging more aspiring nomads to adopt leave-no-trace mentalities and aim to leave the places they vacationed in better than they found them. If you’re curious about how to support local economies while traveling, here are five tips for giving back.
The pandemic has impacted many communities worldwide in devastating ways, but for places that rely upon tourism for their economic growth, COVID-19 has left long-term damage. In addition to coping with COVID-19’s brutal aftermath, these tourism-reliant communities may have been struggling to stay afloat, even before the pandemic began.
However, without economic growth—fueled by tourists abroad—it’s challenging to establish a robust healthcare system. For those aspiring healthcare professionals hoping to lend a helping hand, becoming a travel nurse allows you to dip your toes in uncharted waters while also positively impacting these tourist-heavy destinations.
To get started, utilize job marketplaces like Fusion Marketplace to kickstart your travel nursing career. Then, to extend your philanthropic reach, find positions in impoverished communities abroad that have been directly affected by COVID-19. Remember, the work you do as a full-time travel nurse will nurse those local economies back to health by restoring the physical well-being of local workers.
While all-inclusive resorts are tempting, choosing to stay at a chain hotel from an international company does little to benefit local economies. Staying at small, independently-owned hotels, on the other hand, keeps them in business and puts money directly into the local community’s pocket. Not to mention, at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll likely spend most of your time inside with the four walls of the hotel, dulling the sparkle of a once-in-a-lifetime luxury vacation in an exotic location abroad. By contrast, with a local stay, you’ll enjoy a more authentic experience with improved access to local cuisine and an unobstructed view of the day in the life of a local.
If you’re looking for culturally relevant, once-in-a-lifetime experiences during your vacation, booking an excursion is a straight shot to scrapbook-worthy memories. There are plenty of opportunities which you can book directly from local businesses, such as taking surfing lessons or a guided hike. However, if you must book from a big-name tour company, make sure you’re booking from an ethically-minded organization that hires locals or actively gives back to the community.
Returning home with mementos that remind you of all the memories you made abroad is the cherry on top of any luxury vacation. In many cases, tourists enjoy collecting specific items, like keychains or magnets, from every place they’re lucky enough to visit. However, instead of heading to a gift shop to buy cheaply-made trinkets, seek out local artisans selling one-of-a-kind, handcrafted souvenirs for loved one’s awaiting your arrival.
To connect with these local artists, visit a farmers’ market or simply take a stroll down the street and window shop. You’ll find unique pieces that are a true reflection of the place you visited while also positively impacting the local economy.
Savoring authentic cuisine is the foundation of any successful vacation abroad. While the uncontainable forces of globalization mean that you can find a McDonald’s practically anywhere, international chain restaurants contribute little to the local economy.
Not only does venturing to a local establishment funnel financial resources directly into the local economy, but it also means you’ll also have a delicious meal that blows any hamburger out of the water. So, the next time you’re feeling a little homesick, push through that urge to visit your favorite fast-food restaurant and try some delectable local cuisine.
Giving back while traveling is a lot easier than many think. Supporting local economies ensures that the people who call tourist hotspots home can thrive and continue to share their culture for years to come.