Photo Credit: Nappy.co
7 Ways You Can Support Locals In Your Travels In 2022
New Year, same travel habits? 2022 is the year for changing travel habits for the good. Here are some fresh perspectives on how we can collectively support local communities and businesses while we travel in 2022.
1. Support locally owned accommodations
Supporting the local communities by choosing local accommodation over chain hotels is a useful and easy way to make a conscious change in 2022. Trading chain hotels for smaller, family-run or boutique hotels is a smart way to enjoy a more intimate trip.
Depending on the location, this option can often be truer to the rhythm and lived-reality of the country you’re staying in. Staying in an Airbnb in Oaxaca allowed me to truly understand the effects of the water-crisis in a country like Mexico, which made it easier for me to join the host family’s examples of living a sustainable, less wasteful life. Often it is a great way to connect with community concerns or more local initiatives and further your support within the local economy.
Encouragingly, deciding to stay in locally owned hotels or rentals has become widely popular within recent years. 2022 could see local accommodation options even more accessible and prioritized, meaning that regular and consistent income for these establishments could become a well-earned and truly needed reality.
2. Dine at locally-owned restaurants
Scouting restaurants is probably one of the best parts of a trip. Finding restaurants that serve good food, offer an irresistible atmosphere for an affordable price is possibly all a traveler can ask for.
What we need to add to the list of desirables in 2022 is locally-owned dining spaces. Locally-owned restaurants will most likely employ locals, cater to locals (as opposed to ignoring them in their exclusionary marketing efforts to impress foreigners) and they will likely source their food locally and be more environmentally conscious than chain restaurants.
It goes without saying that local knowledge and expertise will accompany your meal, allowing for further understanding of the country’s cuisine and culinary secrets, which is not a typical selling point for chain restaurants.
3. Become a local at the Farmers' Market
The Farmers’ market is a cute and easy way to incorporate local-facing behaviors into your travel habits. The market is a true hallmark of community, often bringing vendors from far and wide to offer a sample of local and nearby town goods.
Trade your supermarket bought fruit and vegetables for some fresh local produce, irresistible home-made snacks and a string of Sunday afternoon conversations with local vendors.
4. Seek out local tour guides and activities
We can’t recommend local tour guides enough because gaining local knowledge and deepening your connection with the land is not always advocated in travel conversations. Not only will you be able to have genuine, authentic interaction with your new environment, but you’ll also be led by guides who should understand and actively avoid the damaging effects of tourist-centric mentalities for the community.
In many countries, tourism is a huge source of income. This dependency can often lead to: participation in damaging activities for the collective and individual mental/physical health, erasure of history in order to cater to Western travel ideals and environmentally unfriendly activities.
Seeking out and supporting local guides shows that there is an interest and appreciation, and most importantly, a trust in the guide’s ability to reveal the areas that tourists, with correct permissions, can wholly enjoy and learn from.
5. Find and support Indigenous-owned businesses and initiatives
Having the privilege to explore and enjoy certain terrain that Indigenous peoples are not afforded the opportunity to is motivation enough to seek-out Indigenous owned businesses, initiatives and tours.
In 2022 and beyond, it should be a huge priority to honor these histories and legacies where possible.
Visiting San Cristóbal de las Casas in 2022? Check out the numerous local tours to Chamula, a nearby Indigenous town, where you can learn about the culture and Indigenous practices and buy from the local artisans. Equally, you can support the women-owned Zapatista businesses in the small town of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
6. Consider the impacts of COVID-19 on local community efforts
For the last two years, COVID-19 has massively impacted the way we engage with tourism. Many local businesses have not been able to recover, safely reopen or return to work in the same capacity.
In 2022, we can support these suffering local businesses by making donations to places we might’ve visited. Simply sharing resources with others to increase visibility of these businesses is a huge force for support, too. Some businesses are even shifting their focus to virtual tourism and at-home virtual experiences.
7. Listen and Learn
Supporting locals while traveling means making the extra effort to be a good guest: that is, a keen listener, ready to exchange. Collectively we have seen what it means to stay put, to enjoy from a distance and to forfeit movement.
Returning to travel means shedding the habits of fast travel and making the most of the opportunities to connect, particularly with those native to the countries we visit.
Traveling, more than ever, has finally returned to being about exchange and slowing down to learn something new. In 2022, we can embrace and even reflect these lessons back into our daily attitudes towards supporting local communities at home.