Traveling is all about getting to know the places you visit. From a city tour in a European city to world heritage sites, planning excursions with the thought of having the least possible impact while also benefiting the local community will make for a satisfying outing. Some things you can do include:
- Read up on the destination before you go and learn a few words of the local language
- Respect local cultures, traditions, and holy places - if in doubt, ask.
- Local people have different ways of thinking and diverse concepts of time; being patient and accepting will go a long way in enjoying your visit.
- Get into the habit of asking questions about local ways of doing things.
- Ask the hotel or tourism authority if there are conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and how you could help support them.
- Hire a local guide - you'll discover more about the area's culture and people, and they will earn an income directly from you.
- Wildlife and ecotourism can help conserve endangered species and some cultural traditions, take interest of how this is being done.
- Watch wildlife responsibly and in the least disruptive way possible.
- Don't touch, handle, feed, or ride on aquatic life. These actions may stress the animal, interrupt natural behaviors, or provoke aggressive behaviors in a normally non aggressive species.
- Be concerned about the welfare of animals in marine or land shows, and if not satisfied of the conservation role and treatments in these performances, avoid these attractions altogether.
- Visit national parks and private reserves to help fund conservation projects and environmental education.
- Support rural and indigenous tourism as it will provide income to communities in isolated areas.
- Keep the places you visit clean. Always dispose of your own waste.
- Archeological sites are fragile places. Tread carefully and do not take anything from the site. They are the local peoples' heritage and they should stay untouched.
- Visit museums, especially those which showcase the local history. The visitors' fee will go to preserving the local culture.
- UNESCO's World Heritage sites  are a treasure to humanity. They are always worth a visit for their history, culture, customs, and legends.
Other wonderful pastimes that make travel enjoyable, benefit the destination, and get you connected with local people include:
- Sit it in a park or public square, people watch, or start a conversation with a local.
- Go off the beaten track and visit non-touristy neighborhoods to have a drink or a meal in authentic places.
- Picnic in parks or the beach, and be part of the recreational activities local people enjoy.
- Attend religious services, but be sure you show respect by dressing appropriately and be aware of expected behaviors and customs.
- Watch festivals and special ceremonies in an unobtrusive and thoughtful way.
One of the greatest pleasures of traveling is eating, and there is generally plenty of it on holidays! From trying an exotic dish at a family owned restaurant, to picking up fresh produce in a farmers' market, going local is the best way to support the place you visit, while also enjoying fantastic food. Some considerations are:
- Consume foods that are produced locally, and require less wasteful transportation to reach the area you are visiting.
- Eat local dishes as much as you feel comfortable in doing, and ask questions about the origin of the food.
- Order off the buffet or specials of the day, as these foods are generally prepared from fresh produce and in larger quantities.
- Always avoid food waste by ordering the right sized portions.
- Drink draft beer and carbonated beverages from the tap/fountain, to avoid bottles and extra packaging.
- If possible, drink tap water at restaurants, versus bottled water.
- Buy the local bottled water brand, if tap water is not recommended. This avoids the transportation carbon footprint and packaging.
- Ask about the source of the food if it is a concern to you, i.e. salmon, other fish, and seafood , as well as any menu items which may be from endangered species, are scarce, or are unethically sourced.
- Ask the hotel, especially all inclusive resorts, what happens with leftover food. Do they compost it, give to employees, or donate it to the local charity?
- Drink organically made beverages where available.
- Try regional wines, beers and spirits instead of drinking multinational brands which have a bigger environmental footprint because of shipping
Shopping is a wonderful way of supporting the places you visit. But above all, it gives you a chance to bring back unique gifts which showcase the culture and heritage of the places you visit. For a "guilt free" shopping experience, and to ensure that your money goes to those who need it the most, keep some of these tips in mind:
- Buy crafts made with indigenous materials and labor from the local community, versus mass produced souvenirs which are often imported and have a bigger ecological footprint.
- Avoid souvenirs made from endangered woods and minerals, or animal products from threatened species. When in doubt, always ask the vendor about the source of the materials and labor used.
- Patronize locally owned businesses, markets, and bazaars, instead of large shopping areas.
- Buy lightweight and small souvenirs, as the extra space and weight uses more energy to bring home.
- Buy something the locality is famous for; something unique which identifies the destination. People are proud of their heritage and love to share it with the world.
- Bargaining may be expected in some cultures, but avoid aggressive and confrontational behavior. A fair price, or a little more, may provide much needed support for a local vendor and his/her family.