Travel and culture.

Travel and culture.

Travel and culture do not necessarily go hand in hand. They are many people who have traveled extensively but are still culturally unaware due to their unconscious biases. When thinking about traveling, travelers must always be aware that they will experience cultural differences and be respectful of the culture they choose to place themselves in, even if they don’t accept it. Here are five ways to become a more culturally sensitive traveler.

1. Know that culture is not limited by race or ethnicity. People have different cultures based on their upbringings, language, gender, religion, or sex, to name a few. As a traveler, expect to see people who have different experiences, backgrounds, or viewpoints.

2. Know that you will see, hear and possibly feel things that will be different from what you are accustomed to. For example, queuing or standing in line is common when traveling through airports in the boarding process. However, in some cultures, the boarding process can be chaotic as some cultures are accustomed to a “me first” mentality.

3. Know that even though you might recognize your destination for a particular culture, this does not mean that you have to abandon your own culture. Be culturally sensitive as many places are multi-cultural, and you can add value to your destination with your own culture.

4. Know that culture influences people’s attitudes, beliefs, values, and behavior. Try not to judge a person based on what you presume to be their culture; oftentimes, your judgment is based on your own unrecognized bias.

5. Know that travel becomes a much more pleasant experience when you have learned to accept and respect people and their differences. You will become much more open to new knowledge and experiences and add value by sharing your own culture with others.

It has pained me to see the new wave of Asian racism as much as it has been to experience it as a person of color. What I do know, however, is that traveling has opened my eyes to see people as they are and not what I think they are. Has traveling opened your eyes culturally? I’d like to know.

Being a “different” traveler.

Being a “different” traveler.

As a person of color, being seen as a “different” traveler is not a novel experience. Having “locs” (or dreadlocks as they are commonly referred to) and being able to occupy spaces where people of color are not normally seen makes me appear different to many and sparks curiosity. I’ve learned to embrace being different and to see it as a positive experience. Here are five ways you can make your presence as a different traveler a more pleasurable experience.

1.Smile. Even in the face of obvious displeasure, it throws off those who tend to see you differently. It takes less energy to smile than it takes to frown and often gives you a sense of power not expected. Most people can’t help but wonder why you are smiling when they think you should not be. Positivity wins every time.

2.Embrace being the object of attention. This is yet another way to remain positive in the face of being made to feel different. Enjoy reading or listening to a book, or watching a movie, if you prefer solitude. Sooner or later, your comfortability appearance will actually become real, and you won’t even notice the looks.

3.Be open to curiosity. I have found that being open to having conversations or answering queries that respect my boundaries to be more informative than invasive. I have had many conversations about my hair and have learned to embrace curiosity to teach my culture to people.

4.Embrace being different and love the skin you’re in. No two people are the same, and everywhere you go, whether the destination is local or international, you will be different from the people surrounding you, be it in features or culture.

5.Know that just as you seek to gain new experiences and knowledge by traveling, many others are doing the same. Traveling opens us up to new worlds, and to many, we as travelers are part of their experience. An open mind is the best luggage you can carry.

Have you experienced being a “different” traveler? Has it been a positive or negative experience? I’d like to know.

Five safety tips when traveling solo.

Five safety tips when traveling solo.

Traveling alone can be challenging whether you are an adventurous person or not, and no timing or circumstance can make the journey ideal.  As with all travel, the key to traveling is preparation.  When traveling solo, you should give thought to some safety precautions.  These five tips are not all-inclusive but are meant to help those planning to travel alone.

1.Share your information with someone, whether it is a family member or a friend.  Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.  If you’ve planned an itinerary, share it with someone and in the age of social media, stay as connected as you can.

2.Upon arrival, take note of your surroundings and the people around you.  Do they look like tourists, or do they look local? Is there anyone you notice who is paying particular attention to you?  There will always be locals trying to provide transportation upon arrival, but pre-planned transportation or recognized taxi service is always a better option.

3.Get an idea of the travel time to your destination.  When making reservations, take note of the driving time and/or distance to know if your ride is taking longer than usual.  Often, taxis will take the scenic route to increase the fare, but knowing timing lets the driver know you have an idea of your destination and that you are an aware passenger.

4.When checking into your room, ask at the check-in desk for a floor plan.  Some people prefer to be close to the stairs, while others prefer to be near an elevator.  Seeing a floor plan lets you know the general area of the floor you will be staying on, and you can request a change before you leave the check-in desk.

5.Check the room as soon as you get in. Hotels are not perfect, and you might be checking into an occupied room.  Check closets and bathrooms before closing your room door completely.  Use all deadbolts and locks when in the room and always check before opening your door, even if you expect service from the hotel.

I could add so many other tips, but these are some of the most common guidelines that come to mind.  Traveling solo can be wonderful, but it’s best to do it safely.  What are some of the tips you would give if you’ve traveled solo before?  If you haven’t, were these safety tips helpful? I’d like to know.

Five tips to become a first-rate traveler.

Five tips to become a first-rate traveler.

With my years of experience in professional and personal travel, many people have asked me to give travel stories about my experiences.  This interest makes for great conversation pieces and ways to find commonality with people I meet. Here are my five tips to become an excellent traveler and share great travel stories with people you meet.

  1. Be kind.
  2. Be kinder.
  3. Be the kindest.
  4. Be one of a kind.
  5. Don’t be that kind.

It’s incredible how kindness changes not only your experience but the experience of others.  We are all a part of the world, and being kind is simply the least expensive and most significant way to show love to others.  What tips would you give? I’d like to know.

Five tips from a seasoned traveler.

Five tips from a seasoned traveler.

After twenty-three years as an international flight attendant and having lived and traveled on my own for many years, traveling has become second nature. However, it is not the same for many travelers, and it’s best to remember that airplanes are modes of transportation. Not all travelers have similar reasons for travel, so here are five of my tips to keep you grounded while traveling.

1. Unless you are traveling on a private jet, chances are the people around you aren’t traveling for the same reason. Your exuberance on your travel plans may be a bit annoying to your fellow traveler who may be going to a loved one’s funeral. Be mindful of others and pay attention to those around you.

2. Airline agents and flight attendants are people too. They are not there to serve you literally; their primary purpose is customer service and your safety. Everything else in between is simply a service provided by the airline or the flight attendant or gate agent’s kindness. Be respectful, and they will respect you in turn.

3. There is a saying, “you catch more flies with honey.” Flying often is a stressful time, and many people may act in ways that they usually would not. Offer grace to those who you may find annoying or intrusive. Many times, they are simply nervous and trying to find commonality with you. Remember that you probably will never see this person again, or they may live in your neighborhood.

4. Say thank you. It seems simple but showing appreciation can give you the most pleasant experience. I walk with Starbucks gift cards loaded with five or ten dollars. If an agent, flight attendant, or airport worker does something to be appreciated, show your appreciation. Remember that although you may do this a few times a year, airport workers do this every day and enjoy the recognition.

5. Be kind; it is merely the most gracious and inexpensive way to be a good human and an excellent traveler.

These ideas are not unique, but I know they are impactful after spending years in the travel industry. Do you have any tips? I’d love to hear them.

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