As travelers we have great responsibility. We are representing our countries, our cultures, and our values. Some people may have never left their home place before so you should assume you’re the only source of interaction/information they will have. This means we need to take precautions with our actions and be mindful of where we’re visiting. Here are some major points we should take.
•DO YOUR RESEARCH
Whenever going to a new place, you should always do your research. Not only look into the currency conversion and where to stay, but research on the cultural and political state of the country. These things will greatly affect you experience there. This will also give you a greater chance to connect with the people there by being able to have a conversation about their country and asking them more about it.
I once made the mistake on not researching before visiting Cambodia. I was just going there for a border run from Thailand so I didn’t think it was a big deal (I was being arrogant). But once I was there, I was overwhelmed by the history of the country and the political and economic state of the people. The genocide that happened 40 years ago still affects the Cambodian people in a very real way.
• BE OPEN
Every culture has a different way of doing things. When you’re traveling you’re entering into another way of life. To get the most out of it, you need to open up your mind. Let go of what you think is “normal” or “how things should be”. You will learn so much when you do this and allow your experiences to feed your intellectual and spiritual growth. To be a respectful visitor, not only do we need to be open but we need to have judgeless hearts. The way we interact with people should show them that we want to learn about them and their culture.
• TRY NEW THINGS
To me the whole point of travel is to experience new and different ways of doing things. Variety to reality if you will. This means when you travel you should try EVERYTHING! Try all the foods, the local buses or motorbikes, different jobs that are authentic to that area. Immerse yourself in the culture.
• MODERATE YOUR WARDROBE
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may have to moderate your clothing. Be very mindful of the culture you’re going into. Not only as respect but also for safety. For example in Morocco you should NOT be wearing short or revealing clothing or you will absolutely be harassed. This is a Muslim country and women dress very conservatively.
If you have any other points regarding cultural sensitivity, please comment below.