One of the lasting effects of the pandemic has been that many people are more introspective, more protective of how they spend their time, and kinder to themselves and others. This sentiment of benevolence has even permeated into the travel industry, as a ‘Travel Kind’ Movement is taking shape.
The concept of traveling kind is complementary to other travel trends that have gained momentum in recent years, namely giveback travel, slow travel, and sustainable travel. All of these travel styles are rooted in kindness … to the environment and the local people in the destinations visited, as well as to the travelers themselves.
Our world has been through terribly pressing times for too long, and people everywhere are just tired out. It is no wonder that the pendulum is swinging back the other way, and individuals are once-again seeking the wholesomeness, the decency, the graciousness of an earlier era when neighbors talked to each other on the front stoop, friends and even strangers went out of their way to help each other when in need, and whole communities celebrated life’s simple pleasures together.
If we take the feeling that last sentence evoked and sprinkle it over the travel experience, you have achieved the essence of traveling kind. It is really about connecting with others, treating them as you want to be treated, and acknowledging the goodness and uniqueness in people. Sometimes this is easier to do while on vacation, for only a week or two at a time, and away from the daily stresses of life.
Ways to be kind when traveling
“I think that the most important thing to do when traveling is to be kind to the places you visit,” says Travis Paquijn, co-owner, 417 Travel. “Remember that you are a guest in their home and treat them as such. If you're lucky enough to be staying with a local family, give them gifts or offer to help with chores. If you're staying in a hotel, leave some money for housekeeping or buy something from the hotel gift shop in appreciation for their hospitality.
“I also think it's important to remember that traveling is all about perspective — you get to go somewhere new, meet people who are different from you in some way, and learn more about your own culture by comparing it with someone else's. When we travel, we're always learning new things about ourselves; maybe even more so than we realize!”
Another way to travel kind is to take the time to pass along a compliment when someone serves you well. It does not take much effort to seek out the positive, to have a pleasant exchange with a flight attendant, a hotel bellman, or a waiter, for instance. Look for something to appreciate about the people around you. Those kind words just might make their day, or their week.
“Kindness always works. You never really know what someone else is going through. Being kind, taking the extra step to ask someone how they are doing, complimenting someone can really make a big difference in their day!” suggests Lori Swinderman, president, Travel By La Buena Vida.
And then there’s the subject of tipping, with all of its varying nuances from country to country. “As travel agents, we should be explaining to our clients how important tipping is,” says Swinderman. “Get educated on local customs, and relay those to your clients.”
Regarding how people can be kinder when traveling, she adds: “I feel like when we travel, we often let all the rules go out the window. We leave lights on, let water run longer. We need to remember to conserve and protect the resources of all of the destinations we service. And always, always treat the staff like human beings that matter.”
Yet another way to be kind when traveling is simply to have patience. These days, people are so stressed out that they overreact to situations happening around them. If you find yourself getting annoyed by something someone around you is doing or saying, try to stay calm and just give them some space. Quietly move away rather than having a nasty confrontation. Be nice to the representative at the airline counter or the hotel reception desk, even if they are taking a little longer to handle your request. Hold the door open for your fellow travelers and smile as you pass by them on a walkway.
As Swinderman reminds us: “I think that [the emerging kindness movement] is long overdue and should really be a given, in life and business. I think back to the old saying, ‘You get more bees with honey than vinegar.’”
The power travel advisors have to influence kindness
If you take a few moments to think about it, travel advisors can make a significant impact on their clients and all the places around the world where they send travelers.
“I really believe, as travel agents, we have the power to change the world around us. We move wealth all over this world. Let us move past just making the sale and realize the people behind that ‘sale.’ For instance, one booking to Mexico has the power to change and influence not only you and your clients, but everyone that lives and works in Mexico, from the CEO of the hotel to the staff cleaning your room, and everyone in between,” explains Swinderman.
That’s the big-picture view. Now, let’s fine-tune the focus to the client sitting right in front of that same travel advisor. How are you being kind to your clients today?
“We listen to them,” says Swinderman. “We take the time to dig past the simple vacation request and find out the meaning behind why they want to travel and what they want to experience. Sometimes that trip to Mexico isn't just a trip to Mexico. It may be Grandma's last vacation. Take the time to ask the leading questions.”
Paquijn gives us a list of additional ways travel advisors can show kindness to their clients. “First, be honest with them. Second, don't make promises you can't keep. Third, take time to listen to their concerns, and respond in a way that's respectful of their feelings and needs. And fourth, be attentive, responsive, and available when they need us — even if it's inconvenient or if we’re busy working on something else.”
He goes on to say: “I think the most important thing I learned from this topic is that kindness is its own reward. It's not about what you get out of it, but what you can give to others.”
FROM THE SPONSOR:
Care is at the core of ALG Vacations’ values. Through simple kindness, to yourselves, with personal and professional development; to others, by giving back; and in travel, by showing passion and respect for all destinations, cultures, and industry colleagues, they believe we can create a world that reflects that purpose.
This month, ALGV is showing kindness through appreciation for their travel advisor partners with more prizes, more promotions, and more possibilities to support your business. As part of a year-long effort, the tour operator continues to encourage travelers to Plan with a Pro, spreading word of the value of travel advisors and providing you with the tools you need to succeed. Learn More at www.ALGVacations.com.