When travelling through a city or community it is easy to get lost in the moment. It is easy to let the hysteria of your once in a lifetime travelling experience make you feel and act in certain ways. This is fine, it’s good to let your travels stir strong feelings and emotions within you; but there is a problem when these feelings lead you to act in ways that disrespect the culture in which you are travelling through. Quite simply, to be a good traveller you have to be a respectful traveller.
First and foremost you must respect all the foreign cultures you immerse yourself in on your travels. A good place to start in doing this is to refrain (as best you can) from taking photographs that could be deemed disrespectful. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take photographs as they are the perfect way to look back on your travelling experience once they are over, but a smiling selfie at a concentration camp isn’t the most tasteful thing to do, is it? It’s all about choosing where to take a photo, when to take it and what to do in it.
You should also respect the basic mannerisms and etiquette of the place in which you visit. The golden rule in regards to this is to do research on your destination before you even get there as it is more than likely going to be the case that it differs greatly to culture of your own society. And this type of venture isn’t necessarily limited just to respecting the overarching culture of a society: if you are ever partaking in a local pastime that you have never taken part in before you should make sure you go into it with knowledge on how best to avoid disrespecting anything or anybody whilst doing it. For instance, if you plan on trying a wine tasting experience then you should see how a wine tasting works beforehand. A hugely important factor in regards to this specific pastime is that you should never turn up to take part in it bathed in aftershave or perfume as the smells may disrupt the aroma of the wines; if you turned up to a wine tasting experience adorned in fragrance then you would instantly be showing a blatant disrespect.
And in regards to local pastimes, it could also be deemed disrespectful if you don’t at least try your hand at them whilst travelling through a culture. It is respectful to show an avid enthusiasm in the pastimes of a culture; if you were planning a tranquil travelling experience in Thailand, for instance, you should be open to the idea of spending time bathing with a hugely important figure in the country’s identity: the elephant. Now, every pastime is not going to be for you, and that’s okay, but it’s very important that you show yourself to be willing to try it in the first place.
It is very important to respect other cultures and other ways of life when travelling, even when they differ so greatly to your own. But remember, in some countries being a respectful traveler isn’t just the right thing to do, in some countries being a respectful traveller is an absolute necessity.