Tips on how to be a socially and culturally, respectful traveller

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Published: 21-03-2022

Travelling is amazing, vacations are incredible, but what happens when we want to experience a different culture or country in its truly authentic form? Sometimes it is difficult to absorb and experience the most you can, while be respectful and polite to local customs and ways of life. Here are a few pointers for your trip to Peru.

Amazon tribe

Budget

We recommend picking your destination in line with your travel budget. Some places are simply more expensive than others…. London and New York, for example, are not the best places to visit if you are on a budget yet there are other destinations in the same countries and regions that may be a little more accommodating, price-wise. A general rule of thumb is that the more well-known a location, the more expensive it will be!

Travel within your budget

Getting there

The main cost of any travel plan or vacation is how you get to the destination. Most people fly, of course, but there are certain times of the year when you can save on flights, giving you more to spend on activities within that destination. Also, if you are on a budget, maybe use some of those air miles that you have accumulated over the years!

Women weavers in the Andes

Working out your budget

Sometimes the cost is a priority and sometimes it is the time you have available. Usually, if you have the time, then you can travel more economically. More bus journeys in the destination mean fewer internal flights and this keeping costs lower. High season or low season in the destination usually affected the cost of hotels, restaurants and some activities. Weather conditions usually fall in line with high season and low season, but the general rule is that the ore people travelling the higher the costs.

Peruvian money

City or nature

What are your interests? Do want to spend a night dining or dancing or staring up at the sky? Is camping your thing …or is camping a 3 star hotel? Your accommodation expectations can influence a lot and whether you want an outdoors style of travel or the luxuries of a big city, these aspects will affect your travel style. Also if you like camping, then there are usually designated places to do so and not just on a beach or remote area…. respect the norms when visiting a new place.

Llamas at high altitude

Local interaction or meeting other foreigners.

Bear in mind that certain cities or touristic destination fill up at certain times of the year. If you are looking to be one of the million travellers then great, if not look for certain times of the year when the destination will receive fewer travellers. If you prefer to avoid the tourist traffic, then see the next section!

Meeting a native Amazon tribe

Finding friendly locals

Local knowledge in any destination is a must. Local people know where to eat, drink, the best time of the year to travel, where to avoid, and are an incredibly valuable source of information for most travellers. Just like at home, there are helpful and unhelpful people…. it's the human condition! The main thing to bear in mind is that your holiday destination is their home…. always be polite and respectful and simply ask someone else if you don't get a positive response.

Young Quechua girl

Fit in!

Every destination has its individual idiosyncrasies. Language, customs and behaviour are always related to the specific destination and can even change a few blocks down the road! What is the standard however, is that local people are usually understanding when an “ignorant” tourist makes a faux pas. Try and brush up on the basic etiquette and do’s and don'ts of the destination you plan to visit.

Puno women

Lingo

Always learn a few words and phrases of the destination you plan to visit. This goes a long way with the locals and can get you out of some tricky situations! It is of course, also a form of respect to learn at least some of the local language as we cannot assume that everyone will speak English! If you are struggling with a language download the google translate app, which can help you out in over 100 different languages :)

Spanish class

Dress as yourself!

A lot of travel article would have you believe that it’s better to dress down, try and blend in, or “go local”. Basically the average foreigner simply does not blend in when visiting a different country and it can make us stick out even more if we gear up in the local garb (did you see all the photos on Instagram???) Sometimes going local is not a good idea, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it is disrespectful, use your judgement! For example, I would recommend for women travelling to certain countries, to cover up a little more than they usually would. This is mainly to avoid unwanted attention and allow you to get on with what you are doing more than anything else, or for example, when you enter religious buildings, to respect local cultural belief systems. Different countries have their cultural and even religious norms so it is worth doing a bit of background investigation about your specific destination.

Tourist at Machu Picchu

If you are unsure, ask!

If you have made some local friends along the way or are staying in a friendly accommodation, ask the people around you, they can give you invaluable information about what is and isn't culturally acceptable. I have lived in Peru for many years and the local indigenous Quechua  people really do believe that when you take a photo of them, you are robbing their souls, so they take what is to us an innocent action, really seriously! So local information is really valuable when in new situations or visiting new places.

Ask a local!

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