March 13, 2019

5 travel habits to swear by

Travelling is essentially a way of life. Globetrotters always juggle a mixture of practical considerations and social norms in an attempt to easily blend into all situations.  Rely on these pro tips to enjoy your trip to the max and educate yourself about respectful behaviour in the host countries you visit.

1. Baggage: travel light

Minimalism = freedom and flexibility. Keep this in mind when it comes time to pack your suitcase.

Many travellers now insist on packing light by fitting everything into a carry-on bag. This saves time and money, plus travellers are able to breeze from one place to the next with only minimal luggage in hand.  

Only pack what you are sure you will need. Unless you are heading to a remote area, you can always pick things up as you go.  

Choose clothes that mix and match well and can be layered, comfy socks and, most importantly, comfortable footwear (a pair of walking shoes, plus a pair of more dressy shoes for a night on the town). Go for wrinkle-free, light fabrics that are easy to fold and pack.  

Purchase travel-size versions of your toiletries. The more environmentally minded can fill reusable containers with their favourite products.

2. Planning: leave room for the unexpected

Experienced travellers will tell you: the magic of travel happens most often when you least expect it (things that fall into the ‘wonderful surprises’ category). Planning every itty bitty detail can certainly be reassuring, but it can also prevent you from following the road less travelled to discover hidden jewels.  

The side street leading to a local waterfront bar, taking a detour to wander through a square and ending up at a charming independent hotel, the couple you met by chance who have become lifelong friends… a planned (and timed) excursion does not leave room for this kind of random and memorable experience.

Fit some breathing room in your schedule, as much as you can tolerate! We guarantee you will not regret it.

3. Culture swap: open your eyes and your mind!

Travelling is also a way to experience other cultures and their uniqueness firsthand. Beyond the folklore and exoticism, cultural differences can evoke sometimes contradictory emotions. Curiosity, admiration, unease, fascination, wonder ̶ all normal reactions that we can feel, but they do sometimes take us by surprise.

You cannot go wrong by reading up on local traditions before departure to prepare yourself for some culture shock and encourage both harmonious and enriching encounters. Consult travel blogs, Canadian government travel advice and watch the news. You will then be more able to translate what is going on around you when you get there–while remembering to stay safe.   

Above all, keep an open mind. You can learn a lot by simply observing and asking respectful questions to people you will meet along the way.

Avoid snap judgements: if a behaviour does not make any sense, you may be missing some vital pieces of the puzzle to figure it out. Cultivate empathy: the key to opening many doors. And do not forget that a smile transcends any language!

4. Shopping: think local

Tourism is a major economic driver in many countries and regions… sometimes even the most important. This means how and what you buy can directly influence a community’s quality of life. 

So, whenever possible, opt for food that has been locally grown and processed, rather than imported products.

Same thing goes for consumer goods: money spent shopping at small, local stores, instead of at multinational chains, stays in the community.

With regard to haggling: nothing is stopping you from playing the game and it is sometimes required so you are not ripped off. However, bear in mind that too much haggling can be considered disrespectful.

Again, research local customs, learn some key phrases and above all, don’t lose your cool!

5. Environment: reduce your carbon footprint

Keeping track of your environmental impact while abroad is easy enough to do when you take a vested interest in it. Sustainable development issues are increasingly becoming more relevant to travellers.

Drinking water (aka potable water) use ranks supreme among things to consider when planning an eco-friendly trip. Shortening your shower time in some parts of the world could really make a difference. The best practice would be to observe how the local population manages its water resources and go with the flow.

Most backpackers know about the leave no trace principle. When trekking in a forest or park, it is crucial to always respect the laws that exist to protect biodiversity. Staying on marked trails, avoiding feeding animals, not picking plants or wildflowers and only making a fire in authorized areas are pretty much universal cornerstones of the LNT philosophy.

The environmental impact of travelling is a hot topic for travellers who are conscious of their carbon footprint. Many try to avoid air travel as much as possible (at least domestic flights).

For the past few years, it has been possible to offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions you generate through travel by contributing to a recognized carbon offset program. You directly contribute to the advancement of environmental programs by purchasing carbon credits from a specialized organization to offset your emissions.