Responsibility As a Tourist

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Before departing for Dublin, my dad made a funny comment that I was not a tourist since I would be residing in Ireland instead of just visiting. Although he meant it to be reassuring, I believe that it is essential to consider oneself a tourist, regardless of the duration of one’s stay in a foreign nation, particularly in locations with significant historical importance. Viewing oneself as a tourist encourages a deeper appreciation and understanding of the culture, customs, and traditions of the country visited, which in turn leads to a more fulfilling experience.

Individuals have varying approaches to treating their homes; some may have grown up with relaxed rules for how they interact with their environment, while others exhibit unwavering respect. The cultural contrast emphasizes the need for setting a standard for tourists. To be a respectful tourist, here are two major rules I live by!

An essential thought to have in mind when traveling is that a person knows nothing about the places they’re visiting. Online research may provide valuable insights, but as a tourist, a person can’t comprehend what an environment is like unless they’ve lived in it for a significant amount of time. It is easy to make assumptions based on appearances, such as seeing litter on a roadside and assuming that it is acceptable to drop trash in the open. However, these assumptions can be misguided due to extenuating circumstances that contributed to the clutter, like an influx of tourists may have caused littering despite the locals never doing so. This is something I saw a lot during St. Patrick’s Day!

Another tip I have is in regard to mindfulness. I made a conscious effort not to play into negative stereotypes of the United States. Some of these include being loud, having a poor fashion sense, and exhibiting intolerance toward other cultures. While some of these traits may have some degree of truth depending on who you’ve met, I did not want to be the first American someone encountered who confirmed these stereotypes. It is essential to represent oneself and one’s country in a positive light when living abroad. By doing so, one can foster positive cultural exchanges and challenge negative stereotypes that may exist. Being mindful of one’s behavior and attitude toward other cultures can also help create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all travelers.

By adhering to these guidelines, I aimed to ensure that I did not offend or disrespect the locals and their way of life while traveling. It’s thanks to the conscientious efforts of everyone that popular tourist destinations are able to withstand the test of time. In Ireland especially, there’s a good mixture of new and pre-existing structures having harmony with one another. This has only been accomplished thanks to the upkeep and care that goes into keeping an old building standing. Just look at the beautiful sights that have to offer us! Following these guidelines helped me have a more meaningful and enjoyable travel experience while also respecting the local culture and customs.