Something which always helps me, is to remember I am a guest. And just like I wouldn’t go to a friends home and trash it and be disrespectful of their space and home, I apply those same principles to being a guest in others’ home country.
Pick up after yourself, take pride in representing where YOU come from, be polite, and take note of local customs and mores. If you come across a place that has historical, or cultural meaning and there are signs requesting you to stay off the grass, not touch certain things, or to keep your voice down, please do so! You’ll help to preserve these special places and you won’t be the one giving everyone from America a bad reputation as the loud, obnoxious, non-trash-picker-uppers!
6. try to stay in local accommodations, when possible
We love staying in AirBnB’s sometimes. It’s SO nice to have a whole place to yourself, and when you don’t feel like staying in a hostel or hotel, it can be a great budget option, or give you the chance to splurge on an amazing place!
However, businesses like AirBnB have been causing trouble in major cities. With people from all over the world coming and going out of one apartment in a given neighborhood, there can be several issues. As a neighbor, you never know who will be coming and going, nor do you have a say in it.
Another issue is that since having these properties has become so profitable, it’s now a side biz for people. This means there are now large property management companies in charge of loads of AirBnB’s, which means instead of your money going to someone renting out their home while they’re away to make some extra money to cover expenses, many places now are ONLY AirBnB’s, where no one lives there full-time and your money has now gone to someone who manages lots of properties. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I guess it’s not really what these home rental business started out intending to do.
What you can do:
If we decide to book an AirBnB, we do our best to ensure the person we’re renting from only rents out the one property. We do this by clicking on the profile of the Renter, and here you can see how many other properties they have! This way our money is actually helping out that one person and not someone who owns 100 properties in Barcelona and is making bank off all of them and has never lived in any of them.
Other cities, like San Diego, are experiencing the prices of homes shooting up, because of the huge business of ‘home-sharing.’ And unfortunately, these new ways of booking accommodations are kinda ruining locals home towns and making it so they can’t afford to live there anymore.
Another option would be to book accommodations elsewhere. If you’re in Spain, take advantage of the Pensions, which are budget-friendly hotels with basic amenities. If you’re not looking for a super luxury experience and 5-Star resort, there are great local hotels, hostels, Bed and Breakfasts which are owned by a family, and plenty of other local accommodations you can book, in every country.
I’m certainly not saying any of this to sound like a dick, or seem pretentious, but these are all good options to try to help out on the ‘home-sharing’ issue that many cities are experiencing.
7. be aware
Do things like read this blog post ha! Be aware of the places you’re going and take note if they are experiencing any of these issues with over-tourism. You can do research on the cities you’ll be visiting and a simple Google search will get you some more information!
For example, if you’re going to Thailand and know that Maya Bay is getting destroyed because of over-tourism and you have no other reason to go there except because you saw some amazing photos on Instagram…do some research and find another beach to go to! We just did this and found some insanely beautiful beaches that we pretty much had to ourselves — don’t just go to a place that’s struggling with over-tourism because you see it all over Instagram! That’s part of the problem, ya know?!
8. travel with responsible + ethical companies
Pfffff I KNOW how much research goes into planning a trip. Usually if you’re looking for a tour company, you’re looking for the tour that is exactly what you want, the price you’re looking for, and you’ll be reading a ton of reviews to make sure it’s what ya want. On top of all of that, something to take note of, is that not all companies are really helping you travel responsibly or ethically.
Well…what in tarnation does that mean?
Okay, here’s an example. You’re going to Peru and you want to do some hiking, so you’re looking for an excellent tour company to take you through Peru. You want the company to take care of everything; transportation, accommodations, meals, and your 5 Day Trek to Machu Picchu. Cool. And just like with everything, there are good and bad tour companies.
In this example, you could choose the tour company G Adventures. They use local accommodations, transportation, and work with small, locally owned businesses for each portion of the trip. In addition, they were one of the first big travel companies to bring awareness to animal tourism — that is, any place which uses animals as tourism for profit. They no longer take guests on experiences like elephant riding, or petting and snuggling tigers and instead brings focus on places which are trying to preserve and genuinely care for animal that need it.
You can listen to another of our episode’s about Ethical + Responsible Travel, including animal tourism HERE.
9. eat outside the main area
We do this anyway, because it’ll always cost you a shit-load more to eat in the main squares of touristy places! Not only will it be more expensive, it probably will be far less delicious, because most of those places are just looking to make money off of the thousands of tourists visiting and in turn, they are not really that authentic food and drink of the country you’re visiting.