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Travel the World While Observing the Smiles

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5 answers to the question of “How to travel locally and have fun at the same time?”

In normal years, tourism adds more than two trillion dollars to the global economy, which is nine per cent of the global GDP. Stop for a moment and imagine what it would be like if all this money went to the local population. Tourism is a money exchange of sorts – you take the money in one country and spend it in another.


Often, though, it happens that the money ends up in the pockets of rich businessmen from foreign countries. This is especially the case in large resorts located by the world seas. You can read more about it in this article. Today, I give you a few simple tips on how you can support the local community while travelling.

How to support the locals through food?

One of the most important things when travelling is food. No journey can be enjoyed on an empty stomach. Food and the way we consume it are an important part of a country’s culture, so it’s really something special to eat in small, local restaurants the locals like to frequent. That’s where you can find friendly service and unknown dishes. In order to enjoy a true culinary experience, one doesn’t need to go to Michelin star restaurants; it’s simply enough to visit a small tavern at a corner of the street with lots of people in it. The food there might turn out to be more expensive than the one you’ll get at a more mainstream restaurant or at a kebab and pizza stand, but it’ll also be healthier and will bring you closer to a part of the culture. I usually tend to pick a dish from the menu I know nothing about. That’s why I get some nice (as well as not so nice) surprises served on the platter. Take-aways usually have a story behind them. The traditional dish from the German state of Hesse, for example, was named Käse mit Musik (cheese with music) due to the large amount of onion, which can later lead to a production of various sounds. But a word of caution is always in place when trying new local foods and drinks. In countries where there’s no quality potable water, one needs to be especially careful not to order a drink with ice because it can result in uncomfortable night-time adventures. Eating habits are linked to tradition and it’s always fun discovering those. So, don’t be surprised when your Kurdish hosts tell you to sit on a cushion on the floor. It’s always recommended to buy food at the market where you can buy it from the locals. Most importantly when travelling, though, is that you don’t waste time on food you can eat at home.


Where to shop?

In reality, we don’t have time nor money to always go out for lunch or dinner, so we usually buy food and drinks. It’s recommended that you don’t set your foot in large shopping centres that are often located somewhere on the outskirts of the city, but rather head to small charming shops instead. That way you can contribute to the preservation of the liveliness of a local community. If you want to buy a new item of clothing, don’t go to Primark because there isn’t one at home, but rather go to shops that sell second-hand clothes instead. You’ll definitely stumble upon a traditional tunic or a woolly sweater. These shops sell clothes at a lower price than small local shops, plus you’ll help reduce the number of clothing in the world. After all, the clothing industry is one of the major polluters. Travellers also like getting souvenirs for their loved ones as well as for themselves when travelling. Care should be taken when it comes to souvenirs and not buy the ones that are massively produced in various countries, but rather the ones made by local artists. These souvenirs are made in front of our very own eyes. It’s also strongly encouraged that you support women with your purchases, as they tend to manage the family money better than their male counterparts.

What to do with waste?

When travelling, it’s important that you behave just as you would at home, or even better. This means that if you don’t leave garbage lying all around and you recycle at home, you should do the same on your trip. Especially if it feels like you’re the only one doing it. Nature will be grateful with as little as you picking up the garbage along the street and taking them to the nearest waste container.


Where to book a guided tour?

When booking a guided city tour or a safari ride, it’s important to pick a local tourist agency. This ensures you a local guide, which means getting information first-hand. These guided tours usually include stops at local artisans and caterers. There are also special tours that take you right to the heart of the local community and show you places where tourists normally don’t go. This helps you learn about the different aspects of a country. Urban Adventures has some great excursions and they offer a special Focus programme that takes you directly to the locals and introduces you to their stories. These trips are organised in a partnership together with non-governmental organisations and social businesses, which tackle real local issues, and they help you hear the true stories of actual people. You can explore a farm in Kenya or people in Cuba who try to revive the local communities through art. HI members get 25% off.


How to get closer to the people?

When travelling, take your time to understand the foreign culture. It all starts at home. Take some time and read about the sights and the people in advance. That way, some events that might seem unusual at first glance will become clear right away. Also check if there’s an interesting event going on during your stay, one that will bring you closer to the locals, or take part in a charity or clean-up project.

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