Photo by AC Cabason
Muni on this:
When we travel, we think of the things we’ll get from it—new experiences, new friends, new souvenirs. But do we consider the mark we leave on the places we visit?
Travelling opens our eyes to new cultures and fresh perspectives, and lets us observe the unpredictability of human nature. Thanks to airline promo fares, what were once far-flung provinces are now only an hour’s flight away. In our travels, it is important to be mindful of a few things that would help ensure that the many scenic places and cultures in the country and around the world will be preserved in all their glory for future generations to see and visit.
Every year, thousands flock the beaches and mountains of our beautiful country, taking along with them plastic bottles, plastic bags, tickets, candy wrappers, cigarette butts – all sorts of potential litter. From the moment we pack our stuff, we should be conscious of the small things that we bring with us, like shampoo sachets, boarding passes, receipts, etc., as these could get lost in the rush of travel and end up on the ground or worse, in the sea. Why not reuse little travel bottles instead? That way we would minimize the trash we might inadvertently leave.
“Maybe you might have some advice to give / on how to be insensitive…”
Okay, so Jann Arden wasn’t talking about traveling when she sang this song. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be aware of how our actions affect the people around us. Has your arm gone numb because a guy kept hitting you with his gigantic backpack while looking for his seat? Have you sat beside someone on the bus who ended up sleeping on your shoulder for a good half an hour? If you don’t like it when such things are done to you, then chances are, other people won’t like it too.
Mad respect, yo
In Bangkok, it is considered disrespectful to rub or pat someone on the head. In Mt. Pulag, campers are asked not to shout or make too much noise as the mountain is considered sacred by the indigenous community. Remember, we are visitors to that place, and it’s a good practice to learn about their traditions, culture and customs, and give them due respect.
When traveling, we can help boost the local industries. Consider buying homemade jam instead of that bottle from the factory, as well as woven bags and wallets made by the indigents. Eat at native restaurants. Stay at local guesthouses. That way, we can contribute more to the income of the locals.
It also helps to be conscious of the kind of impression we make, especially in a foreign country. We automatically become pseudo-ambassadors for our homeland when travelling abroad, so it would be best to conduct ourselves in a way that would not be the basis for locals to make negative generalizations about our country. If we want foreigners to see Filipinos positively, then we should act accordingly.
Travelling and other drugs
Travelling is a drug that gets one hooked after the first taste. It opens our mind, invigorates our soul, and gives us a deeper appreciation of life. So when we go out and see the world, we should always remember to be mindful of the whole experience, not just the sights. Talk to locals. Take public transport. Bask in the history and culture of the place. Take a spontaneous detour. Try the local delicacies. Engage all the senses. Read. Listen. Taste. Smell. Feel. Learn. The world is beautiful.
In what other ways can we preserve the world’s beauty for fellow travelers?