Leave Footprints of Positivity

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.



  1. Belinda J.
    November 7th

    Ja’Vonne, this is great information and I wish more would think this way. We try to engage in conversation with staff when we travel, and we have learned that a lot of them do not even go home at night so that they will be on time for the next shift. Also, I’ve noticed that if you at least try to speak a little of their language, even if you are not quite correct, they light up and smile. We want to leave a good impression and maybe change some of the stereotypes that may be present.

    • Ja'Vonne
      November 17th

      Thank you Belinda, Just a little mindfulness!

  2. Tracy Collins
    November 4th

    Thank you Ja’Vonne, This is probably the most important advice to give & these are things I have always practiced when traveling abroad. Giving thanks & showing respect & appreciation is so important as I have not forgotten the work & sacrifices my own parents made that has allowed me this privilege of being able to go on this trip. This will be my first trip to Africa and So glad I chose South Africa as my first venture. As a suggestion, save the mini size personal products from hotels (soaps, shampoos, lotions) & give those as gifts or buy personal products from the dollar store to bring- $15-20 goes a long way. And so agree that tipping is hugely important & I try to go above & beyond as I know how much it means to their livelihood.

    • Ja'Vonne
      November 4th

      Well said, We will give more information and tips as we get closer to the trip and at the Orientation. Details to follow…