A few days ago, Gujarat Government shared an advisory against taking ‘Selfies with Asiatic Lions’ at the Gir Forest. This is to discourage tourists from getting too close to wild animals. The frenzy of catching that ultimate ‘instagram worthy’ moment has cost several lives worldwide and many fatalities in India as well. Why, we wonder, people on holidays behave so recklessly?
While we agree that holidays are all about chilling, but lets stop in our tracks and ask if our coolness is harming the environment, endangering us or an already endangered place/species? With traveling, exploring faraway lands increasing with the masses, it is high time we discussed travel manners and etiquette. Let’s be responsible travelers and avoid these 11 UNCOOL things while travelling.
Elephant safaris are sometimes the most common way to explore wildlife in our forest reserves. We must find an alternate way. The Gentle Giants are not born to wear saddles, carry people and lumber logs. They are made to do this by their handlers who inflict pain and instill fear in them. When we go for Elephant Safaris, we promote this vicious cycle of using elephants as beast of burden. Similarly, many sites in Thailand promote visits to farms and temples where you can touch, take pictures with Tigers. Their perpetual state of stupor will tell you how drugged they are. Say NO to such places and practices.
Adrenalin rush can drive many to behave recklessly and take unnecessary risks. Keep in control and don’t be tempted to take a selfie hanging precariously from edge of a cliff. You may survive the experience but others, you motivate through your dare devilry pictures, may not.
Trampling Endangered Places
We all want to visit crumbling marvels before they die out. Please do so but ensure that you are not in any way contributing to hastening of its decay. If you are asked by the Archaeological Survey of India to keep your camera flashes off while photographing paintings 2000 year old in Ajanta Caves, please follow instructions. Busloads of tourists flock these heritage sites and trample priceless relics without a thought. Do visit these places, but treat these delicate heritage sites with care. No monument in our country has escaped the wrath of relic defacers. May we finally put an end to this?
Shooting locals without Permission
Armed with DSLRs, point and shoot and digital phone cameras, we all want to capture nothing less than a Nat Geo moment. We want to capture local people, indigenous cultures in all their uniqueness. Let’s spare a thought for people we are capturing. Do they want to be canned? Are we intruding in their lives? Are we being disrespectful by shooting their moments indiscriminately? There are several resources, tips by seasoned photographers that tell you how to shoot local people with their permission. Do look it up before you go on your next trip.
Not Eating Staying Buying Local
Eat, Stay and Buy Local when you travel. In addition to getting the real taste of the place, by doing this we bring in sustainable development to the communities and contribute to fair distribution of wealth. Use homestays, guest houses over International Five-Star Hotel chains, choose travel operators who support local communities, pick local handicrafts.
Haggling with Small Vendors
A good bargain always brings great satisfaction, but don’t haggle too hard! When you buy local, from a small vendor, you are probably putting money in the hands of the maker, grower, craftsmen.
If you are unsure of the quality or pricing, find a not for profit organization operating in the area supporting local communities and buy from them.
Being Disrespectful towards those Serving
Agreed, we all want to be waited upon and served when we are on holidays, but please do that with respect, grace and thoughtfulness. Don’t be impolite, don’t behave arrogantly, don’t scream because your order is a little delayed.
Noisy Bunch is not a Nice Bunch
Let your hair down, party, have a great time but not at the cost of annoying people around. Tourists/hotel guests must be thoughtful that their revelry is not disturbing others around them. Keep those conversations and laughter going, create memories for yourself, not horrors for others.
Jumping Queues, Acting Smart
Holidays often mean having to deal with queues…queues around ticketing counters, around ATMs, to take pictures against an iconic site, to buy food coupons and so on. Respect those back home and also at tourist destinations. Please don’t be a Smart ‘Jugaadu’ Alec and try to jump the line. Account time for such activities and don’t push and shove your way ahead.
Leaving Litter Behind
Leave only footprints and take only memories……that’s a common slogan you will find written at most tourist places. That’s because travellers leave so much behind in their visits. Not even Mount Everest is spared!
It’s sad that Mount Everest has earned itself the moniker of being the world’s highest dump yard! It is estimated that 50 tons of garbage is strewn across the mighty mountain. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat mission is now tackling Mount Everest and a 34-member Indian Army mountaineering team is preparing for a challenging journey to scale Mount Everest. The team is also going to bring back non-bio degradable garbage left behind by generations of climbers. (Picture Credit: Daily Mail UK)