I feel like things are looking a little more hopeful on the travel front this month. The idea that we could be travelling again one day soon seems possible. It’s a good feeling.
But everything has changed. Travel can no longer be the care free, fast and bustling business it was before. The industry is hurting, and needs time to heal. Travellers are thinking differently and spending differently.
One thing that has struck me over the past few months is the value of kindness. How small acts can have a big impact, especially in tough times. We’ve clapped for carers, checked in on neighbours, shopped less, talked more. All these little things add up to something lovely emerging from an awful situation. I think it’s time to take that kindness far and wide, by doing things like…
Supporting the Small Business
I’m not against the big guys, not at all. But smaller places need us more. I have a few trips pencilled in to Bristol and Cardiff as soon as it’s safe to do so, and I’ll be seeking out independent coffee shops, boutiques and businesses. The beauty of reaching out to a SB is it doesn’t even need to cost a penny. Share on social media, sign up to news letters, leave a friendly comment or review. Just let them know you see them and you value them.
Boosting the Budget for Tips
Tipping can be a bit of an etiquette nightmare. If to tip, how much to tip, tipping-vs-service charge, different expectations from country to country. For me, tipping is a way to show a little bit of appreciation to people who make my travels better, easier, happier. Most people working in the service industry have lost out this year, badly. Many employees rely on tips to bring a low wage up to something closer to a living wage. So I’ll be building generosity into the budget. If you can, its good to tip and leave a little ‘thank you’ note. Its just a quick doodle on a napkin but genuine thanks and authentic, positive feedback is worth as much as a financial tip.
Compliments, Praise & Grace
Following on from my last point, dish out compliments and praise like confetti. If we receive poor service, we tend to be quick to complain and keen to spread the word. I’ve done it myself. But when we have a really good experience, or even just expected level of service, it is so easy to let that go unrecognised. I’m vowing this year to dish out compliments, write letters of praise, celebrate the people and companies who are getting it right. And engage more with the people I meet along the way, so I know exactly who to thank when I’m doing it.
And grace. Give everyone grace. If you see a business getting it wrong, or a conversation doesn’t go how you’d expect, give the the benefit of the doubt. We’ve all been through a lot. Getting back to normal is a bit scary, people are going to be apprehensive. Let’s all cut each other some slack. I know if I’d lost a lot of work and income this year, then had to go back to work dealing with masses of people in the wake of a pandemic, I’d really appreciate some grace. Not to mention a thank you and a smile.
Seek Out the Stories
Where ever you go in the world, you’ll likely find smaller attractions and places of heritage that rely on volunteers, visitor donations and scant funding to keep them going and to keep them accessible. It might be a heritage railway, a tiny museum, a chapel or a home. It might be a local guide who’ll take you on a tour, full of residents knowledge and inside tips and only asks for a tip based on what you believe the experience was worth. Or a busker, or a street artist. Small places, big stories. Bringing colour and character and just making our travel experiences brighter. Seek them out, support them, donate or tip when you can but most of all- use them, visit them, review them. Because we’d all be worse off if these people and places were lost.
Using Products with Kindness in Mind.
I discovered something recently, and maybe this is common knowledge and I’m late to the party, did you know some sun creams can be harmful to sea life, in particular coral? Even in places where you might not find coral beneath the waves, sun products can be an issue. Many are chemical laden and non biodegradable, meaning there can be a lot of sunscreen just left in the ocean. Not nice. So going forward I’ll be making a point of buying marine friendly sun products that are free from Octinoxate and Oxybenzone. It won’t be hard, my all time favourite brand Nivea has made all its sunscreen marine friendly.
And this got me thinking…I reckon there’ll be other simple swaps or habits we can change. Tweaks that will mean we consume less, do less harm. And maybe even bring something a little more to the community we are visiting. If every tourist committed one small act of practical kindness on every trip or day out, imagine what that could add up to.
As Jerry Springer used to say…take care of yourselves, and each other.