Some dread it while others enjoy it – returning home after a trip. It can be challenging coming back to the everyday life after travelling and getting new impressions. Still, it is important to spend some time post-travel to reflect over your experience s and what you have learnt from it. Here is a few tips for you as a traveler to consider after returning safe and sound in your own home.
Bringing back intruders.
We have all heard terrible stories of the different bugs we can bring back home. One of them is the notorious bedbug. It is found in the most lowkey hostel, but also in the most luxurious hotels. This bug doesn’t care about either standard or cost and can leave you quite frustrated if you encounter them. However, some easy steps can be taken to ensure you don’t bring it back to your home. Because bringing back these home are not sustainable for anyone (except maybe them). Shake all clothes on the outside of your home/apartment before you bring it inside. Afterwards, wash all items you can on at least 60 degrees. Items that cannot be washed you can freeze on at least -18 degrees. If frozen it should stay there for at least five days.
These actions can be smart to do no matter what, as you never know what might have jumped into your suitcase on your way out of a place. In addition, this forces you to clean out of your luggage quickly. We all know the luggage can be a hassle to clean out of, but with this in mind you will probably do it a bit sooner.
Reflect over your experience.
When returning from your destination, we bet you are full of stories and impressions from a new culture and very eager to share this. Before sharing your experience, take some time to contemplate about what you have seen. Was your destination as you expected? Or maybe better? Think about what it was that made you stay. Maybe it was that you met a local or had an authentic experience. Maybe you thought it would be different but ended up even better. Using some time reflecting over the experience can give you so much, not only in your storytelling but also in giving you a deeper insight. It also gives you a huge advantage in promoting both the destination and a sustainable way of travelling. If you have a positive experience in a local hostel or with a local tour guide – speak about it! Because people listen to others advice.
Share your experience.
Another thing to consider is how you present the country and its culture. Brazil, for example, is struggling with having a stamp as dangerous. However, as long as you take the necessary precautions and take well-considered choices this is an incredible destination filled with warm people and wonderful cultures. To talk about a place with a nuanced look is positive both to the people from that destination as well as those going to it to. Countries in Africa are not just poor and Brazil is not just dangerous! It is very important to be aware of differences in countries, but it is also important to have a wider understanding of your destination. You as a traveler is one of the most important actors in bringing a nuanced overlook over your last destination to your audience. Take this job serious!
Another job many travelers take seriously is their social media accounts. Most of us love to share our experience on social media, and especially when we are on the road. However, it is important to think before you share, and not only about how instagrammable the picture is. As mentioned earlier, consider how you present a country, its culture and its people. If your picture is containing people you also have to consider if your picture promotes integrity, whether you have gotten informed consent, and what the intention of it is. Radi-Aid have made a guide on how to communicate the world that is worth checking out: https://www.radiaid.com/social-media-guide/
Rate your experience
We have discussed how to spread your experience to your immediate surroundings. However, you can also help fellow travelers make good decisions after your own travel. What better way to contribute to the travelling community than to actively use the rating options given to you? TripAdvisor and Facebook both have rating options for most overnight places and activities. Take a minute or two to write a review about it. This gives other travelers a way to learn from your successes or mistakes, in addition to giving the business an ability to see if they are doing things right or wrong. If we do not speak up (in this case write “up”) about our experiences, how will it then change? Or if it is so great it shouldn’t change at all – give the people doing an excellent job a thumbs up.
Give your travel gear a long life
How often do we think: I need all this safari gear, or I need this and that before I go on vacation? Many overdo the shopping prior to a trip and end up using some of the gear maybe once or even never. When returned home you might not need the safari hat, the mosquito net and that travel book any longer. What to do with this equipment afterwards? Save it for a constume party and go as Indiana Jones? Or you can donate it or sell it to another adventurous person. Reuse of travel gear is an excellent way to make the travel industry just a bit more sustainable. Save a bit of money by selling gear or gain a few karma points by donating it. In addition, it can make the next traveler save a few bucks which can rather be invested in a local tour company somewhere in the world.
Travelling is a privilege and not a right
We want to finish this series of sustainable travel by saying; travelling is a privilege. To have the ability, and both the economic and social freedom of taking time off to see new cultures is not a human right. Therefore, we, as travelers, need to use this privilege the best we can. Do research beforehand so the footprint you leave is as positive as possible. Be respectful when you are at a destination and try your best to support the local community. And speak to the locals, observe and learn.
Take this opportunity to open your horizon and broaden your mind. This is one of the things travelling does to you. It can make you into an even more resourceful person, as long as you are open for it. Travel blues is not just sad, it is a time to reflect over the wonderful things we have experienced. Travelling is a process from start to finish. Spread the word. About the importance of supporting the local community you travel to, about minimizing your footprint and having an open mind. And about having a nuanced picture of things. Be an advocate for sustainable travels; both prior, during and after your trip. As we said earlier: Take your job seriously!
Written by: Hanna Jacobsen and Eirin Heddeland
Keep following our updates here on the blog, to hear more stories and ideas about sustainability in Brazil and in Norway!