Recently we’ve been thinking about how to foster healthy community development in our day-to-day lives. We’ve decided to start a series on living with intentionality through a community development lens. How to travel, shop, eat, read, drink, be a neighbor, and stay informed, all while fostering a sense of place and connection.
This week were focusing on travel. How can we travel while being mindful of community development? We travel because we want to expand ourselves, leave our bubbles, and learn more about the world around us. But how can you travel in a way that that has a positive impact not just on yourself, but on the communities you enter into? Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind on your next adventure.
Travel with intention. Maybe you have a long weekend and you decided to use it to explore. Maybe you’ve had a draining few months and you need to clear your mind. Whatever your reason for setting off to a travel destination, set an intention for yourself before you go. Make a personal goal to familiarize yourself with the space your entering into or to experience peace and freedom from your everyday life while being there. We find that traveling to a new place with the intention of seeking out what makes it feel like home to the locals is a great way to be fully immersed, and usually you leave feeling like you’ve experienced a little bit of home too.
Shop locally. Who doesn’t love going shopping on a trip and bringing home a momento to remind you of the time you spend away from home? However, going to the mall or a Forever 21 aren’t exactly the best representation of the culture of the place you traveled to, and shopping at those kinds of stores won’t help boost the local economy either. Shopping locally will! Local shop owners know the locals because they are one. They know what the community they are in likes to do and what kind of clothes they wear, and shopping their stores feeds money back into the local economy! A great way to stay connected after you’ve left and to leave a small positive impact on local businesses.
Eat locally. The local flavor of any place is super unique to that place and is a huge part of the local culture. No matter how nice the chain restaurant is, you won’t get the taste of the town or a sense of the local cuisine without eating locally. And again, it’s way better for the local economy.
Ask a local. If you want to shop and eat locally and experience a place the way the locals do, an app can’t tell you where to go. Need suggestions? Ask a local! Go into a shop or stop a friendly face on the sidewalk and ask them where their favorite spots in town are. There’s no better way to get to know a place than by learning from the people that know it best and call it home. Maybe you’ll even make new friends and have a reason to come back for a visit!
Think locally. Often when we think about travel, we picture far off destinations on other continents. That doesn’t have to be the case. Traveling to the other side of the country or even the other side of your own county can be an exciting new destination and culture to experience. Some of my favorite visits have been in my own state, just a few hours away, with local friends showing me around to all their favorite spots. There are so many small town gems and exciting new places just around the corner!
Get in your car and drive. Visit a new place and learn more about yourself in the process. But keep in mind that wherever you go is home to someone, and we always want to leave knowing we contributed to betterment, not the detriment, of the places we go.