5 Ways to Better Travel Karma

Good travel karma is going from one place to another bringing upon oneself positive results through action.  Good travel karma bequeaths more good karma.

The opposite, bad travel karma, would be desconstructive action while goign from one place to another.  While most of us have good intentions that go awry,  good karma is not as difficult to achieve as one may think.  

Here are 5 ways to champion good travel karma:

1. Tip (when appropriate of course)

My Aunt Barb thought me an extremely important lesson: take care of others and they will take care of you.  I can’t begin to count the number of instances where befriending a secretary, a taxi cab driver, house cleaner, opened doors that otherwise would have remained shut.  Many people such that I just mentioned are the special people who hold the real power to gain entry that would otherwise be shut.  I always tip my hairdresser 20% with extra periodically and guess what, I never have a problem getting an appointment.  

At least 80% of humanity lives on $10 a day.  1.6 billion people live without electricity.  According to the World Resource Institute, around 790 million are chronically undernourished.  And, according to a study in Environmental Scientist & Technology, 6 out of 10 people in the world do not have flushing toilets.

I bring up a few of these statistics not to inflict guilt and certainly not to inflict pity on others but to put things in perspective.  That extra dollar you thought about giving the cab driver or bar tender would probably really appreciate it.

Here is one caveat: be aware when tipping is uncustomary and may be considered an insult.  Japan is a great example.  Here, a tip would easily be considered rude and totally confuse whomever you tried to tip.  

2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This is just a good principle to follow and really means-don’t be a jerk.  Everyone deserves basic human respect and dignity.   So many times I’ve seen food stall vendors, hotel staff, store clerks treated subhuman by tourists and it hurts me.  It is these people actually who tend to have their hand fixed directly on the pulse on a community and are the best sources of travel information

3. Learn at least the basic phrases of the language

Jumping head first into a country whose language is far from your own is exhillerating, interesting, and of course, sometimes, frustrating.  Teaching yourself some basic phrases will get you far and score you major points with the locals.  

4. Know something about the country you’re visiting

When in Rome baby.  Visiting a temple in Thailand?  You’re going to be asked to cover your legs ladies and gentlemen will be asked to remove baseball hats.  That’s just how it is.  Accept and adapt.  

Checking out the local customs and current political events will prove useful if not critical.  It’s like knowing where the safety lines of a cross walk are.  Using another example of Thailand, saying something negative about the royal family could very likely get you into major trouble with law enforcement.  This is good information to know!

Thai customs required that I cover my legs to visit this temple.

My husband and I asked our cab driver what he thought of the Thai King and he freaked out asking us if we were spies.  Even our questions were too much.  

5. When it comes down to it, people are people everywhere

Yep, good to remember that we all bleed the same color, we all have basic drives, wants and needs.  We all look upward to the sun, moon, and stars and we all want to love and be loved.


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