Whether embarking on an international or domestic trip, remember that your spending habits affect your destination’s regional economy. Spending money at local businesses helps to create jobs and generate income for small suppliers and service providers.
Shopping at small businesses helps keep more money in the community’s economy, contributing to sustainable tourism. Discover eight ways to support local businesses when you travel.
Research Local Restaurants and Businesses Ahead of Time
The internet is a treasure trove of information. Read through travel websites, blogs, and forums to uncover hidden gems. Look for recommendations from locals and travelers who prioritize authentic experiences.
You don’t have to make an exhaustive list, but knowing a few restaurants, cafes, markets, and shops that might pique your interest will make it easier for you to patronize local establishments. This approach can help you avoid overpriced, watered-down tourist traps. Plus, you’ll spend more time enjoying things that you genuinely care about and experiencing the area’s culture firsthand.
Use Google Maps for Suggestions
Once you reach your destination, use Google Maps for suggestions on where to shop, dine, and enjoy regional entertainment. Google reviews are integrated with Google Maps and search results for user convenience.
Pin the location of your lodging accommodations. Then, search for nearby, easily accessible businesses and save highly rated options that appeal to you.
One benefit of using Google Maps as a reference is that, in many locations, locals also post reviews. These reviews typically avoid skewing in favor of tourist-focused places, so you can get a more authentic experience that supports small businesses.
Ask Residents for Recommendations
When you’re unsure about which businesses to support, go straight to the experts: the residents. Their insights can lead you to hidden treasures you might not find in travel guides or online forums.
Strike up conversations with drivers, waitstaff, and shop workers. Ask for their insider tips on the best places to visit.
Supporting small businesses isn’t just about spending money; it’s also about connecting with the community and leaving a positive impact. Engaging with locals not only helps you discover authentic products and unique businesses but also establishes connections that can enrich your travel experiences.
Dine at Venues With Regional Specialties
Culinary experiences are key to enriching your understanding of your travel destination. Instead of choosing chain restaurants or familiar international fast-food joints, try some food venues that offer local specialties. These dishes may reflect the region’s history, ingredients, and cultural identity.
Whether savoring a traditional seafood dish in a coastal town or a hearty stew in the mountains, indulging in the region’s cuisine is an immersive form of connecting with the local way of life. Ask your server for recommendations or inquire about the ingredients and preparation of dishes you’re unfamiliar with.
Learn Basic Vocabulary and Use Apps
Traveling somewhere you may encounter a language barrier? It might be challenging to communicate smoothly with the town’s residents, but learning basic greetings, phrases, and expressions can help you establish connections. People appreciate it when travelers show a genuine interest in their language and culture.
Consider using a language learning app to help you acquire essential vocabulary quickly. Don’t worry about striving for perfect use of the language. Just remember that making an honest attempt to communicate in the local language can lead to more authentic interactions, making your destination more directly accessible.
Avoid Buying Brands You Can Get at Home
You might naturally gravitate toward brands you recognize and buy at home. But one of the best ways to support local businesses when you travel Is to buy from locally owned shops and services over multinational corporations.
Instead of buying your morning coffee from a large chain, seek a charming little cafe. You could also browse the unique inventory at a small boutique rather than buying clothes from a retail giant. These choices add up and contribute to the preservation of the unique character of your destination.
Tip: Explore Regional Markets for Souvenirs
Regional markets and artisanal shops often carry unique products and handmade crafts that reflect your destination’s traditions. Instead of purchasing mass-produced souvenirs from touristy areas, explore specialty markets. From handwoven textiles to intricate ceramics, you’ll find one-of-a-kind items that make authentic, meaningful keepsakes or gifts.
Stay at Locally Owned Accommodations
Choosing local establishments over large or international chains pays off time and time again. When it comes to your accommodations, try to stay at a boutique hotel, guesthouse, or bed and breakfast owned and operated by residents of the city or town you’re visiting. These places often have a more personalized touch and are owned by people who are invested in and part of the community.
Staying in accommodations with local ownership helps you contribute to the region’s economy. It’s also a great way to learn more about your destination and get helpful recommendations from residents.
Participate in Local Tours and Workshops
Many destinations offer guided tours and workshops that provide insights into the region’s industries. These activities are not only educational but also support local guides and artisans who are passionate about sharing their crafts.
Whether it’s a cooking class that introduces you to regional recipes or a guided walking tour that uncovers historical gems, participating in these experiences allows you to directly contribute to the livelihoods of experts as you gain a deeper understanding of the place you’re visiting. As a bonus, many of these places allow visitors to buy the products they’ve just learned about. Shopping from these businesses leaves you with excellent souvenirs attached to fond memories.
Do What You Can
Remember that supporting local businesses is not an all-or-nothing endeavor. Do what you can to boost the region’s economy, but don’t sweat the small stuff. For example, if you’re not an adventurous eater, you may not want to eat a customary dish you’ve never tried before, but you can still visit specialty shops for textiles, ceramics, and other products.
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