It is always our goal to be kind and mindful members of the community of humanity, whether we’re at home in Maine, visiting the awesome artisans who craft the goods we sell at Mexicali Blues, or traveling the globe just to explore. Some of what we know of as thoughtful and polite behavior here is the same when we’re abroad (like not littering, and saying “please” and “thank you”), but there are some ways of being considerate that most commonly pop up in the traveling life. Though the specifics in certain cultures vary, there are some rules of being a compassionate traveler that we always follow, like:
Being mindful of the meaning of gestures and body language in the country we’re visiting. What may be considered positive in one region may be negative in another. For example, a thumbs-up in America means “good”, but it is a very rude gesture in countries in the Middle East. A little research ahead of time goes a long way towards not inadvertently insulting or offending someone!
Avoiding attractions that involve viewing or riding captive animals. These animals are often captured from the wild, treated poorly, and trained using inhumane methods. There are lots of ways available to interact with amazing creatures that can actually be helpful to them rather than harmful, like volunteering in Costa Rica to guard sea turtle hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean, or in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary (Matador Network has a good roundup of some reputable sanctuaries here).
Following the local dress code. It’s a simple way to show respect to the culture and the people in it without saying a word. If the local ladies are all wearing long skirts, we won’t be rocking our shorts and minis. Shoulder coverings are also sometimes expected, particularly when visiting temples and churches. It’s one of many good reasons to always bring a scarf! Check out Chauncey, embracing the local style by rocking a batik sarong, commonly worn by men throughout Southeast Asia. Get your batik sarong here.
Smiling often, and keeping an open mind. An omnipresent sense of humor, positivity, and curiosity has opened many doors to relationships and adventures that we would never have had otherwise!
What are your favorite ways to be courteous or compassionate, abroad or at home?
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