This is not an indisputable set of rules, and we won’t ask for discipline. It’s just that promoting responsible alternatives to mass tourism became our mission, and we got a bit obsessed about it.
The Alternative Travel MANIFESTO is our chance to get heard and be relevant. If you recognize yourself in these values, if they could possibly inspire you or if you, for any reason, disagree, we’d like to hear it.
Be wise and shy away from the sirens of mass tourism, avoid the typical tourist hotspots and opt for alternative destinations instead. Always take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path, follow the byways (and your instinct). Forget about “must-see” attractions and be your own guide. Consider staying at home as the best option at “peak season”. Avoid global chains, tourist traps, and dangerous places. Never pay for what you can get for free.
Authenticity resides only within you, so be authentic and don’t pretend to buy authenticity. Stop taking pointless photos and sharing them on social networks. Try to connect with the place you’re in instead. You went there to escape, learn, discover, meet, adapt, slow down, have fun and relax, so stop feeling alienated and don’t annoy the others. Be honest with yourself and never overact.
Be aware of the socio-economic and environmental impact of your trips and stick to the principles of sustainability, even when the world seems to go in the opposite direction. Recycle, behave just like you’re at home, use local public transportation (when possible) and generally avoid polluting vehicles.
Treat local people well, smile at them and ask for their honest guidance, instead of using TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, or Google Maps. Be responsive and adapt yourself to behave appropriately with regard to local people and local cultures. Be quiet, lower your impact, engage with the communities through which you travel, give back. Don’t believe in fairy tales. For most of the people, what we (the westerners) call “pristine beauty” actually means poverty.
Be agile and travel light. Bring only what you will really need. Your ultra-fashionable dresses and tech gadgets won’t impress anyone, so leave them at home. Always prefer a backpack over a dull trolley bag.
Don’t follow your plan too closely, be flexible, spontaneous, and creative, stay longer in places you really like and embrace the joy of the unexpected. Shit happens, but it may turn out to be a big opportunity. In most of the cases, it actually does. Never forget that the journey is part of the pleasure.
Traveling shouldn’t be stressful. It’s not a challenge. You do not necessarily have to visit 100 places and do 1000 things every day to realize yourself and make the journey worth it. Take your time, slow down and breath. Pick just a few things to do, make sure they are relevant to you and try to fully enjoy them.
Always seek quality over quantity. Do not become a silly memories’ maker. Mechanically ticking off countries, cities and places is no fun. Take notes and devote every day some time to thinking about what you’ve experienced.
Never feel smarter than (or superior to) the average tourist. You usually share the same goals, but mass tourists are trapped in a crazy consumerist machine. Avoiding the mainstream may become a good choice for them too, so spread the word, start coaching, and be friendly.
That’s all folks. Did you find it somehow useful or inspiring? The Alternative Travel MANIFESTO is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. If you’d like, share it anywhere, just linking back here.