Keana trying to keep dry during the rainy day in Hanoi

Traveling is an exciting thing to be doing. Whether it’s for work, school or a treat yourself kind of trip there are many ways to do it. As a treat yourself kind of trip opportunity came up at the end of the summer after my internship had ended on the south coast, I found myself traveling in a different and more sustainable way than I had before. The last time I was abroad was over a year ago when I went to Vancouver, B.C. for a weekend trip. This time I would be going to three countries in East Asia. Vietnam, South Korea and Japan (with an additional three day stop over in Hawaii to visit family). Having never been to Asia before but having a fair amount of international travel experience and having just spent the last 10 weeks working with OSU Extension and Oregon Sea Grant’s Tourism Department, I wanted to be a sustainable tourist.

As a Senior at OSU with a tight budget I thought being a sustainable tourist was going to be hard. However, it turned out to be easier than I thought. I stayed in hostels and connected with the locals. With a little research I was able to find places in my budget that had everything I needed: A clean bed to sleep in, a shower and free breakfast. I saved myself a lot of money staying in shared dormitory style rooms. Staying in a hostel allowed me to have a little extra spending money, meet travelers from all over the world and most importantly, connect with the locals. According to Hostelling International, “true sustainability involves the development of clear and measurable objectives” in the areas of social, ecological and economical.

Tour guide Bob leading Keana and her friends down the busy street

These three areas were all achieved during my stay. The first morning of my trip abroad was in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was pouring down rain and my travel partners and I didn’t know what to do. So, we turned to the hostel employees and were just in time for a walking city tour. There were only three of us on the tour and our Vietnamese guide, Bob was an 18 year old, aspiring to be a tour guide. The guided tour with Bob was a great experience. He made a point to learn our names and ask where we were from and a little about why we were traveling and then he told us about him and why he’s working in the hostel and providing guided tours. As he navigated us through the streets of Old Town Hanoi, making sure we learned the proper etiquette of crossing the street (make eye contact with drivers and keep moving) and answering our questions about what there is to do around town, he stopped at a few turning points to tell us a little about the local history.

It was a great introduction to Vietnam and was one step to being a sustainable tourist.


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