Monday, May 9, 2011

25 Days to Green Travel: Day Four

Learning About the Local Culture


Now that we’ve laid out the why, what, and where of green travel, we’re going to discuss the how. For the rest of the 25 Days to Green Travel series we’ll talk about how to travel green in 3 parts: Before You Go, While You’re There, and Going Home. To kick off Before You Go, I’m going to delve a little deeper into how to choose a destination for green travel.
Kimberly’s post last week outlined a variety of options for where you might travel green. But how exactly do you choose the best green travel destination for you?

Picking your destination doesn’t just depend on the place (e.g. whether there are LEED certified hotels or extensive public transportation); choosing a destination for eco travel also depends on you. How easy will it be for you to be a green traveler there?
Respect the Culture
As we said in our definition of green travel, to be a green traveler in any destination – be it eco-lodge-filled Costa Rica or pollution-ridden Beijing – you must understand, appreciate and respect the culture.
photo credit: foxypar4
When you’re deciding where to go and after you’ve gotten there, you should research the culture. This includes learning about the local customs, traditions, and religion, as well as respecting local dress codes. You should also attempt to learn at least a few key phrases in the local language. Not only is this respectful, you never know when it will get you out of a bind.
Here are some resources that will help you learn more about culture and language:

Culture Resources

                Search the web for country-specific information which you can often find on study abroad sites and blogs. Use keywords in your searched like the name of the destination, plus “customs” “culture” “etiquette.” Also, if you’re not finding anything add “business” to the search, since there is a multitude of resources for business travelers in need of etiquette information. This website also has a few links to country-specific culture information.

                Head to your local library and check out books, fiction or non-fiction, or videos like travel videos, documentaries, and foreign films to gain further insight into the culture

                There are several book series that describe cultures of other countries, such as the Culture Wise series. If you are really interested in learning as much about the culture as possible, check it out.



Language Resources
                Foreign Language Podcasts (a personal favorite)
                Foreign Language Websites
                Open Directory Language Translation Sites

In addition to choosing environmentally-friendly transportation, shopping locally, and sleeping at a green hostel, remember to show your respect for the culture. Do your research before you go and try to pick up a few key phrases. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will also improve your time abroad and help you fully experience your destination.
Learning About the Local Culture is the fourth post in Go Green Travel Green’s 25 Days to Green Travel series.

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