Whether you prefer to hike through rural mountain ranges or stretch out on the beaches of all-inclusive resorts, every traveler has their preferred method of burning off the accumulated PTO.
No matter where you go and what you do, traveling allows a travel-hungry person to soak up new cultures and connect with the locals. However, many people do not fully understand the devastating impact of some tourism activities on local communities.
At best, your tourism can mean job creation and first-hand education of new cultures. On the other side of the spectrum, the negative impacts of tourism can include the destruction of natural resources and the loss of local cultural identity. Yet despite the destructive forces of reckless tourism, it’s easy to get in and out of vacation destinations without worrying about the neighborhoods and natural areas you’ve engaged with.
Thankfully, the practice of responsible travel has become more prevalent in recent years, prompting more budding nomads to adopt a leave no trace mentality and aim to leave the places where they vacationed better than they did. found. If you’re curious about how to support local economies while traveling, here are five tips for giving back.
Become an International Travel Nurse
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many communities around the world, but for places that depend on tourism for their economic growth, COVID-19 has left long-term damage. In addition to dealing with the brutal consequences of COVID-19, these tourism-dependent communities may have struggled to stay afloat, even before the pandemic began.
However, without economic growth, fueled by overseas tourists, it is difficult to establish a strong health system. For aspiring healthcare professionals hoping to lend a helping hand, becoming a travel nurse allows you to dip your toes in uncharted waters while having a positive impact on these tourist destinations.
To get started, use job markets like Fusion Marketplace to jumpstart your travel nursing career. Then, to expand 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 bring those local savings back to health by restoring the physical well-being of local workers.
Stay in locally owned accommodation
While all-inclusive resorts are tempting, choosing to stay at a hotel chain of an international company does little to benefit local economies. In contrast, staying in small, independent hotels keeps them going and puts money directly into the pocket of the local community. Not to mention, at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll likely be spending most of your time indoors with the four hotel walls, toning down the sparkle of a unique luxury vacation in an exotic location overseas. In contrast, with a local stay you will have a more authentic experience with better access to local cuisine and a breathtaking view of the day in the life of a local.
Book excursions at local companies
If you’re looking for culturally relevant and unique experiences while on vacation, booking a tour is a direct hit for scrapbook-worthy memories. There are many opportunities that you can book directly with local businesses, such as surf lessons or a guided hike. However, if you need to book with a reputable travel agency, be sure to book with an ethical organization that either hires locals or actively gives back to the community.
Shop for souvenirs from local artisans
Coming home with memories that remind you of all the memories you made abroad is the icing on the cake of your luxury vacation. In many cases, tourists like to collect specific items, like key chains or magnets, from any place they are lucky enough to visit. However, instead of going to a gift shop to buy inexpensive trinkets, look for local artisans selling unique and handcrafted souvenirs for loved ones awaiting your arrival.
To get in touch with these local artists, visit a farmers market or just take a stroll down the street and shop. You will find unique pieces that faithfully reflect the place you have visited while having a positive impact on the local economy.
Eat at local restaurants
Savoring authentic cuisine is the basis of any successful stay abroad. While the uncontrollable forces of globalization mean that you can find McDonald’s virtually anywhere, international restaurant chains contribute little to the local economy.
Not only does venturing into a local establishment inject financial resources directly into the local economy, it also means you’ll also have a delicious meal that will blow any burger out of the water. So, the next time you’re feeling a little nostalgic, push the urge to visit your favorite fast food restaurant and try some delicious local cuisine.
The bottom line
Giving back while traveling is much easier than many think. Supporting local economies ensures that the people who make their home in tourist hotspots can thrive and continue to share their culture for years to come.