We believe that the more you get out into the world, the better place it'll be — but that means a type of travel that's mindful of the fact that making an impact shouldn't mean leaving a footprint. Here, five ways to make your mark while you're travelling so that your destination — and you — will be better after you leave.
1. Don't hold back
The best way to get a sense for a new place is to talk to the people who live there. But cultural exchanges are give and take, so when you're learning from the locals, give a bit of yourself: telling new friends and acquaintances a bit about who you are, why you're there, what you want to see, what you love about bringing yourself to new places around the world. There's no better way to feel like you're part of a new place than to bring a bit of yourself to it.
2. Dive right in
What's the point in travelling outside of your home country if you don't also get out of your comfort zone? Don't do anything that you might regret, of course, or that poses a personal safety concern (physically or mentally). But if you've always wanted to skydive and just haven't had the chance — or aren't afraid to bite into an edible insect, even though it kind of gives you the heebie-jeebies? Do it. You'll go home with a story, and will leave locals with a story of their own of a brave traveller who conquered their fears (or, you know, about some tourist who ate a bug and kind-of-but-not-really freaked out about it — it's all good).
3. Ask questions
It's one thing to have a conversation; it's another to show interest. Asking questions of the people you meet — whether about their homeland or themselves — will get you not only closer to your destination, but will facilitate meaningful, potentially lifelong connections that will last far beyond your time abroad.
4. Do your homework
Sometimes it's best to arrive in a new place armed with knowledge about what passes muster — and what doesn't — before making an embarrassing and potentially offensive mistake. Try to brush up on local customs and traditions, manners and faux pas so that you'll arrive well equipped to enjoy your time and interact with locals without any hurt feelings or bad impressions.
5. Stay honest — but get open
We all travel for different reasons. Don't forget what motivated you to hit the road, but don't let your motivations hold you back from straying off the beaten path or breaking free of your itinerary. Sometimes, the best memories — and the best connections — happen when you least expect them; if you open yourself up to the world, you never know how the world will change you (and vice versa)!