As travelers of the world, we have a unique opportunity to break down barriers, foster cultural exchange, and create a positive impact on communities around the world. We can banish stereotypes of our own cultures, stimulate the local economy, and bring fresh ideas and perspective to places.
Travel can be a life-changing thing — not only for the destination you are visiting but also for yourself. We walk away a better version of ourselves and with a better understanding of the world.
Yet, too often, travelers become the worst of themselves — throwing up on streets, being obnoxious to locals, demanding places conform to their needs, and ignoring local customs. Too many travelers treat destinations as their personal hedonistic plaything.
Therefore, in order to have great time, foster positive social exchange, get the most out of travel, and be awesome, I say we take the following pledge, so we can be the people other travelers want to know and locals don’t hate:
1. I will read about where I’m going before I get there.
2. I will be respectful of local cultures and customs.
3. I will eat the local food.
4. I will learn some phrases in the local language.
5. I will try one thing I’m afraid of.
6. I will not turn cheapness into a competition, since travel is not a race to the bottom.
7. I will not haggle over less than a dollar.
8. I will not be a loud, obnoxious traveler that demands that locals conform to my values.
9. I will have patience.
10. I will be humble.
11. I will have no regrets about partying until dawn but I will be respectful of my hostel dorm mates and their sleep.
12. I will learn to hold my liquor.
13. I will understand traveling is not an excuse to give up on personal hygiene.
14. I will not ask fellow travelers the same questions over and over again and, instead, get to know them beyond where they are going, where they’ve been, and how long they are traveling for.
15. I will not turn travel into a competition, since it is a personal experience.
16. I will not tell people how many places I’ve been to, because no one cares except me.
17. I will not whine about how a destination was so much better ten years ago nor will I listen to those who do.
18. I will not judge people on how often they return to a destination.
19. I will not be a smugly superior backpacker. I will not judge others for how they travel.
20. I will not judge people for not packing light or eating comfort food when they feel homesick.
21. I will remember to get off Facebook, put my camera down, and enjoy the moment.
22. I will travel slow.
23. I will have no regrets about changing plans at the last minute.
24. I will go in any direction my heart desires and follow my wanderlust.
25. I will remember this is a privilege.
26. I will be grateful for every stupid, amazing, unexpected, breathtaking moment on the road and all the wonderful people who enrich my life.