As travelers of the world, we have a unique opportunity to break down barriers, foster cultural exchange, and create a positive impact on communities around the world. We can banish stereotypes of our own cultures, stimulate the local economy, and bring fresh ideas and perspectives.
Travel can be a life-changing experience — not only for the destination you are visiting but also for yourself. It helps us walk away a better version of ourselves and with a better understanding of the world.
Yet too often, travelers become the worst versions of themselves — throwing up on streets, being obnoxious to locals, demanding that places conform to their needs, contributing to waste and overtourism, and ignoring local customs.
Too many travelers treat destinations as their personal hedonistic plaything.
Therefore, in order to foster positive social exchange, get the most out of travel, and be awesome, I say, as we begin this new year, we take the following pledge so we can be the kind of people other travelers want to know and locals don’t hate, as well as better for it:
1. I will read about where I’m going before I get there.
2. I will be respectful of local cultures and customs.
3. I will learn some phrases in the local language.
4. I will try one thing I’m afraid of.
5. I will not turn cheapness into a competition, since travel is not a race to the bottom.
6. I will eat the local food.
7. I will not haggle over less than a dollar.
8. I will not be a loud, obnoxious traveler that demands that locals conform to my values.
9. I will have patience.
10. I will be humble.
11. I will have no regrets about partying until dawn, but I will be respectful of my hostel dorm mates and their sleep.
12. I will learn to hold my liquor. If not, I will limit my intake.
13. I will understand that traveling is not an excuse to give up on personal hygiene.
14. I will not ask fellow travelers the same questions over and over again; instead, will get to know them beyond where they are going, where they’ve been, and how long they are traveling for.
15. I will not turn travel into a competition, since it is a personal experience.
16. I will not tell people how many places I’ve been, because no one cares except me.
17. I will not whine about how a destination was so much better ten years ago, nor will I listen to those who do.
18. I will not judge people on how often they return to a destination.
19. I will not be a smugly superior backpacker and judge others for how they travel.
20. I will not judge people for not packing light or eating comfort food when they feel homesick.
21. I will remember to get off Facebook, put my camera down, and enjoy the moment.
22. I will travel slow.
23. I will have no regrets about changing plans at the last minute.
24. I will go in any direction my heart desires and follow my wanderlust.
25. I will remember that this is a privilege.
26. I will not decide if I love or hate an entire country within a few hours of being there and interacting with a handful of people.
27. I will not drink and drive. Even on a motorbike. Even in Southeast Asia. Even if everyone else is doing it. Because I value my life and the lives of others
28. I will be respectful of the environment and limit my plastic consumption.
29. I will not ride animals nor visit an animal experience that involves petting or touching that exists solely for tourist purposes.
30. I will be grateful for every stupid, amazing, unexpected, breathtaking moment on the road and all the wonderful people who enrich my life.