8 Basic Etiquette Rules Every Modern Traveler Should Know

Monday, March 07, 2016


We Travel, We Care is a series of essays discussing and exploring issues related to travel and tourism.

I'm writing this article and using Celineism's reach to hopefully stop, once and for all, the spreading of hate in the travel and outdoor communities.

We all know the cause of all the irresponsibility that is now plaguing our beloved lifestyle: lack of, or worse – mis- information.

So, let's just cut the crap and delineate a code of conduct for modern travelers, especially for fellow Filipinos. Instead of the online bashing, let's all be adults just this once, and come together and remind everyone what it takes to be a responsible traveler.

I know I have a lot to learn and there are moments when even I have lapses in judgment, but thing is, I put an effort to correct them. I read. I listen. And I don't presume to be better than everybody else. I just want to do something that I know would make things better, one way or another, okay?

Most of the things you need to know about responsible travel can be found in the LNT (Leave No Trace) Principles, but here are the very basic ones that everyone should practice not only during traveling but also in everyday life. This list is not numbered by degree of importance – everything here is absolutely important, whoever says otherwise is terribly misinformed. This list isn't also definitive and is bound to grow as we continue to go on adventures.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

Etiquette For the Modern Traveler

1. Keep it Clean

Of all people, travelers should be the first ones to denounce littering. Pick up trash – whether it's yours or others'. Dispose of waste properly. Don't leave your garbage in the mountains where it'll most likely stay. Take them back to the plains with you. Stuff that candy wrapper in your pocket and do not throw it out the window of your car, gaddamit! Put those cigarette butts in your bag. Make it a habit to bring trash bags during your adventures, but don't just leave it. Take it somewhere where you can dispose of it properly.

responsible traveling

Also, if you see something that clearly doesn't belong there (like a Malaysian flag in Osmeña Peak), talk to the authorities and arrange for it to be taken down (just like what one adventurer had already done – kudos!).

Likewise, please do not disrespect the places we visit by redecorating them (like leaving a padlock on a mountain or carving your name on a rock). How would you feel if someone pierced your ear without your consent? Come on, people, this is as simple as it gets.

lnt principle

2. Get Better Souvenirs

Think you're a bad-ass because you have a collection of "rocks" from all the places you've visited? Listen; pocketing seashells, scooping sands, and picking flowers for "remembrance" do not make you unique or practical or whatever. It makes you irresponsible.

etiquette for travelers

How would you feel if someone plucks a clump of your hair and puts it on a scrapbook? Not only is that violation of your personal space, it is also really creepy and verging on the psychotic. Take pictures instead – they last longer. Or better yet:

3. Support Local

The whole point of tourism is a) environmental and cultural conservation and protection, and b) uplifting the lives of local communities. Help in uplifting the locals by buying local products from small-time entrepreneurs. Eat at a carinderia. Try out local cuisine and delicacies.

Also, avoid haggling with local tour guides, vendors, drivers, and operators – it may be their only source of income. Contribute to social equality by not undermining the locals and their way of living.

responsible traveler

Know that your patronage may be the only thing that's keeping them from engaging in unsustainable practices such as logging and poaching.

4. Dress Not to Impress

When going trekking or hiking, do dress modestly. You'll never know when there are bugs and limatik waiting to prey on your bare legs or arms or stomach.

outfit for hiking

When visiting indigenous people, research about the dress code. Some tribes take offense when you bare your legs. Do the same when going to ancient and sacred shrines and monuments. Your outfit doesn't have to be expensive. It only needs to be appropriate.

5. Say Hello

Listen; guys and gals. Just because someone from the opposite gender said "good morning" to you on your way up a mountain, doesn't mean he/she has a crush on you. It's common mountaineering courtesy. And don't be all smug and mumble "feeling close." Your reaction (or lack thereof) says more about your character than it does of the greeter.

responsible travel

And more than greeting fellow travelers – a sincere smile and a chin jut will do, you should, more importantly, greet and be courteous to the locals. Respect begets respect.

etiquette travelers should know

6. Ask Nicely

We all have moments when we get sidetracked, and during these moments, the only logical thing to do is ask for more details. Preface your query with a "Good morning/afternoon/evening. Sorry to bother you..." What I've learned from traveling is that people will go out of their way to help, remember that. Just ask nicely.

modern travelers etiquette

Also, don't ask people if "there are NPAs here" or other equally insensitive statements. Again, respect begets respect.

7. Give Way

Hey, we all want great photos to remember our adventures by, but, dude, ever heard of "give chance to others"? Be mindful of the time you spend on an often-photographed area. There are others who spent just as much effort (and cash) to reach a destination. Share the experience.

leave no trace

Furthermore, in mountains, clear the way for people who are going up, and avoid stopping at precarious portions of the trails. Do not let that selfie be the last one you ever take.

8. Party Not Like a Rockstar

This often happens in mountains and beaches. No problem if you guys want to drink yourself silly while looking at the night sky, but please please keep it down. Don't raise your voice as if you're talking to someone on the other side of camp. And if you want music, plug in your headphones because not only do blaring speakers annoy fellow campers, these also scare/agitate wildlife.

leave no trace

Don't give us the "Wala naman silang magagawa" bullshit, because from past events – not to scare you – people have done something, and it had resulted to a broken nose and a knife wound.

BONUS: Spread the Word

I believe that each person has the ability to inspire at least five others. Compel your buddies and your loved ones to become responsible travelers by sharing these etiquette rules. Call out fellow adventurers (politely) when you see them violating these.

responsible traveling

Adventurers, let's use social media as a tool for positive change. We can do so much if we work together and not against each other. That sounds like a cliché, but aren't all truths?

Keep in mind that following rules doesn't make you boring, and breaking them doesn't make you cool.

how to travel responsibly

As we see more of the world, as our experiences accumulate, it is axiomatic that we be able to fulfill more demanding social obligations responsibly, conscientiously, and with confident ease.

What other etiquette rules for travelers can you add?

Know more about how to be a responsible traveler by also checking out these simple rules when you're on the beach. Also, do check out the travel guides to awesome less-traveled destinations in Celineism's Spread the Impact series. Read also about 6 Places in the Philippines that Could Disappear Sooner than You Think.
#EtiquetteForTravelers #WeTravelWeCare

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