Whenever I travel I take into consideration the old Native American proverb. Take only memories, Leave only footprints – Chief Seattle.
We have a tradition of giving on most group trips I organize for Advantage International and when I travel professionally and personally I try to, at the very least leave a positive impression or impact.
Consider that a little goes a long way. People in the service industry all over the world work hard and often for long hours with a smile on their face. Their ultimate goal and duty is to make your stay and experience pleasurable. Unfortunately, they are often underappreciated, invisible and earn little pay.
Of course, tipping is one way to show appreciation, especially to those you don’t see as much like housekeeping. I usually tip $3-$5 daily, I also leave a note thanking them with a smiley face. I get extra water and chocolates too!
Consider tipping the person making the omelet at breakfast too. I notice when I engage with them with light conversation, ask them how they are doing and tip them, they light up like sunshine and add a little extra love in their creation.
Outside of tipping just being pleasant is a huge plus. If you see the same people each day during your coming and going at the hotel, learn their name and make it personal.
One of the biggest ways to take beautiful memories is to immerse yourself in the culture. Show interest in the culture, respect it and embrace it.
If you want to take a photo of someone first ask, then show them the photo and take one with you in it as well. This way it’s an exchange.
Lastly, if visiting a poor country bring gifts of some basic needs to leave behind or to share when you encounter people along the way. Some products for hygiene and daily grooming can be quite expensive in some countries. I also bring candy for the children, I know, it’s not the healthiest of options but, children love candy and it’s a better option than money. An elderly gentleman in South Africa told me that giving money turns children into beggars. Ever since I no longer give money to children I encounter when I travel.
Think about your encounters and leave footprints that are lasting impressions of positivity.