Tips and Advice: Conscious Travel

After traveling to Chile in the spring of 2018, OSU student Alex Bokish created this guide explaining how to be an informed traveler.

Alex Bokish

In this guide, Alex Bokish explains the importance of being a respectful and conscious traveler, wherever you go. 

Before you leave…

Be prepared to be a positive representation of the United States and OSU.

  • You will leave an impression on those you meet. Act accordingly.

Travel informed!

Be comfortable chatting about US topics and current events

  • People in many parts of the world are very informed about US politics. You will be asked about the president, professional sports and pop culture. This knowledge is equally important when encountering other travelers from around the world.
  • What relationship does the US have with the countries you plan to visit? 

Has the US had any political or economic impact?

Learn a bit about local politics

  • Who is the president? Any major current events? What drives the economy? Gauge the local opinion and your experience against the international media’s narrative.

…and its neighboring countries

  • If you’re crossing international borders, learn about the relationships they have. Think critically about those relationships when you notice differences.

…and the history of the region

  • What influence do the indigenous people have on the culture, language and history? Are indigenous languages still spoken? Learn the language!

or at least — to navigate it

  • Learn how to say your occupation and area of study. Learn the currency and numbers. Learn the names of, and how to pronounce, geographic features like cities, bus stations, mountains, roads, etc.
  • When you can’t articulate what you’d like, a smile can at the least end a conversation on a positive note.Think you’ve mastered the local language? Get a haircut from a non-English speaking barber/stylist.

Upon your arrival…


Try new food with an open mind

  • Ask locals were to eat. Understand caloric intake may come on a different schedule and at different doses throughout the day. Try the local spirits, responsibly.

Prepare for the unexpected

  • Store away a copy of your passport and a crisp US $50 bill in a place separate from your other documents. If you’re concerned about theft, keep your passport on you (not in a bag, not in a back pocket), especially in crowded areas.
  • Remain confident. Your safety is important. Don’t compromise it for concern of appearing rude.
  • Always carry emergency toilet paper.

Blend in

travel light — in attitude and luggage

  • In many places, the privilege of international travel (taking time off work, buying airfare, leaving family, acquiring visas) is an opportunity reserved for the elite. Be understanding of this.
  • Cultivate an attitude of curiosity, particularly in situations you find odd.
  • If you’re concerned about theft, leave flashy electronics, jewelry and designer clothing at home.
  • If the exchange isn’t easy to work out in your head, jot down a few currency conversions. Carry small bills. 
  • Don’t expect every business to take credit cards, USD or big bills in the local currency. Break big bills at hotels or banks.
  • If your lodgings require, do not flush toilet paper—or be prepared to face embarrassing consequences.

Upon your return…

Make it a memorable trip – stay in touch!

  • When appropriate, exchange contact information with new friends. Social media is a fantastic tool to remain connected with the world.

Retain and relive the impact of your experiences

  •  Journal while abroad. When you return home tell stories to anyone that will listen.

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