If you want to come and visit Latin America, for sure you are interested in ancient cultures, amazing nature and you also want to be a responsible Traveler that does not cause any harm.
Here are some tips; please follow the following guidelines both before and during your visit. By doing this you can be a responsible trekker and traveler!
- Prepare Beforehand:
Start by learning about Latin America before you travel! Read up on the culture, traditions, religion, history and politics. This will give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive in the country and also help you dress and act accordingly. It’s also a good idea to buy a Spanish phrase book or take Spanish classes so that you can interact with the local people. This is a good website for Spanish Lessons all over LatinAmerica: www.studyspanishlatinamerica.com
- Interact with the Locals:
Look for situations for cultural exchange. Getting to know the person sitting next to you on the local bus or the person cooking your food is often a rewarding experience for both people involved. It is also a great opportunity to practice your Spanish language skills! The local people in Latin America are especially friendly and open to getting to know travelers!
- Do Not Give to Beggars:
You will encounter poverty in many areas of South America, including people begging in the streets. Please do not hand out money or anything else. This only serves to corrupt and worsen the begging mentality. If you want to do something to help, why not volunteer instead? Visit www.volunteerlatinamerica.org and have a look at the many interesting options.
- Be Respectful:
Be respectful in places of religious or cultural importance to local people, especially churches and ancient ruins. These may be just a tourist attraction to you, but to locals they are important places for their religion, culture and history. Visitors should be quiet and respectful in such places.
- Leave No Trace:
To minimize environmental harm, follow the international “Leave No Trace” rules. Remember when you are in nature not to litter or leave anything behind. Remove litter left behind by others. When trekking, always stay on the trail and if you need to use the bathroom remember to do it at least 70 meters from any water source. Do not trample delicate vegetation or remove any plants from the environment and do not get too close to animals in order to take a photograph.
- Buy Local Products:
Start by buying local produce. Buy your food from the many local markets rather than from a supermarket or restaurant. They will probably taste fresher too! Buy gifts from local craftsmen. This adds to the local economy and directly benefits the local people.
- Conserve Water:
In hotels or homestays, use water for showering, washing, etc. sparingly. Clean water is a very precious and expensive resource here in Peru. Respect the local water supply!
- Keep an Open Mind:
You will almost certainly encounter customs and ideas in South America which seem strange to you based on your own culture, but try to be open minded and learn from this new culture. For example, many Peruvians have a different concept of time and are not always as punctual as you might expect. Try not to get angry when this happens and always remember to smile! Adapt yourself to the situation rather than trying to change the situation to you. Approach your travels with an open mind and you won’t be disappointed.