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Think Before You Pack

Travel enriches our lives, broadens our minds, and enlightens us to the reality of other nations.

By exposing the customs of one nation to an other, travel introduces the likelihood for change.

This can lead to the improved welfare of humans, gender equality, the implementation of environmentally sound practices, and the protection and conservation of animals and other wildlife.

One of the largest factors in influencing such change is how we travel. If done right, strong foreign bonds can be made.

Before you travel, make sure you prepare and pack appropriately. Suitcases don’t need to be stuffed with shoes and gadgets, just filled to a comfortable amount with necessary items. If you have to sit on your suitcase to get it zipped all the way, you need to remove a few things.

Try to keep in mind the purpose of items, so that the clothes you bring are suitable to the climate of your destination and are able to be dressed up or down. It is best if the clothes you pack are low maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about wrinkles. Remember, the lighter the suitcase the better. Extra cargo only slows you down, and uses up more fuel when transported. If you plan to bring any prepackaged items, remove the package and recycle it before you leave as you may not get a chance to later.

If you can, travel to your destination by train rather than plane. Once your vacation is in motion be sure you arrive at a green lodging establishment. This could be a hotel or hostel with environmentally sound practices, or a local B&B that has respect for its native land. When in your room, apply the same rules you would at home, by conserving water, reusing towels, and reusing any paper coffee cups. Also, open the curtains to let the sunlight in and allow you to watch the town or city come to life. If you are lodging near the area’s main action, walk and bicycle to attractions and other destinations within the region. Otherwise, use public transportation or rent a hybrid car.

When out and about, spend your dollars locally so the region can benefit from your trip. After all, if you’re showing enough interest to visit the destination, why not show you appreciation to its land and people, keeping the area unique. Instead of shopping for souvenirs at airports and gas stations, immerse yourself in the culture and buy directly from local artisans. You are more likely to garner real experiences that could not be replicated anywhere else.

Just be careful when bargaining. Loose change to you could mean a meal or other necessities to a local family. Also make sure the items you buy are not made out of endangered animals, like sea turtle shells or animal teeth and skin.

If all the walking and bargaining makes you hungry, head to a local restaurant with cuisine made from native ingredients to calm the storm in your stomach. By keeping food choices ethical and local, you may be keeping local farmers in business as well. For entertainment, visit local institutions, including theatres, museums, and art galleries. You may better absorb the lore and humor of a region when watching their art and literature come to life.

Once the merry-making is over and home beckons you, take a long parting look at your room and adjust the thermostat.

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