5 Ways to Be an Awesome Traveler on Gili Trawangan
Travelling is such an amazing privilege that people from all around the world get to experience. You get to see new parts of the world and how different people live. The unfortunate part is that many people take this for granted and act in an inappropriate way while travelling.
Now, we’re not saying that any of you are like this. And you may not even know if you're being unintentionally disrespectful. This guide is for you or a friend who wants to make sure they are being the most awesome traveller they can be!
1) Respect the Culture
First thing you should do, no matter where you are visiting, is to know a bit about the culture before arriving. Gili Trawangan for instance is a Muslim island. Knowing this can help you understand certain things that go on and give you clues for how to act.
As you walk around you will see many women and female children wearing hijabs and dressed in a conservative way. Now, we get that you are here the enjoy the island life and we want you to have that. A big thing you can do to show respect to the locals is covering up when you’re not on the actual beach.
You don’t have to put on long pants and a sweater (that’s the last thing you’ll want in this heat) but always be sure to put on something over top of your bathing suit. This is even more important if you’re going to be walking on the back roads. You are in someone else’s neighbourhood there, and showing respect makes you an awesome traveller.
During your time here you will hear the call to prayer. It comes on 7 times a day and is played over a loudspeaker and heard all over the island. There are many people on the internet saying that they wanted a peaceful, relaxing vacation and it was ‘ruined’ by the call to prayer.
Saying things like this or complaining about it while it is going on is very disrespectful. Again, you are in someone else’s home and need to understand that things are not going to be exactly like they are where you are from. If you are genuinely concerned about the sound interrupting your sleep, research the island ahead of time and make sure you choose a hotel located further from the mosque.
2) Be Environmentally Friendly
Like most everywhere else in the world, Gili T tries to do its part in saving and protecting the environment. So while you are here (and anywhere for that matter) you should do what you can to be as green as possible.
One awesome initiative on the island is water bottle refill stations. As you’re walking around enjoying the island life, you have to make sure you’re drinking enough water. One big thing to note before you visit is that you cannot drink the tap water in Indonesia.
Instead of buying many plastic water bottles while you’re here, bring a reusable water bottle. Most restaurants on the main strip have water bottle refill stations for the public. Here you can fill up your reusable water bottle sometimes for free or as little as 5,000 IDR (about $0.40 USD). This reduced the amount of single-use plastic waste you are consuming while on holiday.
The Gili T vibe has a strong smoking culture. We’re not telling you to pick up smoking, but if you already do you may find yourself smoking a bit more once you’re here. Cigarette butts are one of the most littered items in the world and take a very long time to decompose.
The unfortunate part is that there are no ashtrays on the beach. So to be an awesome traveller, hold on to your cigarette butts until you find a garbage can. If you want to go the extra mile and help clean up after irresponsible travellers (unlike you!), Then there are ways you can get involved on the island while you're here. The Gili Eco Trust hosts a beach clean every Friday evening to keep the island looking pristine. You'll even earn a free beer for your services, in case beautifying the island wasn't enough of a reward!
Another simple way to be environmentally friendly is to eat in. On vacation, it may seem very tempting to get food to-go and eat it at the beach or in your fancy hotel room. But, getting food to-go creates a lot more garbage that then has to be dealt with on the island. Plus, the restaurants in Gili Trawangan are best experienced in-house. Nothing beats your food arriving at your beachfront table as you enjoy the sunset with your toes in the sand.
3) Engage with Locals
One thing that will make you an awesome traveller right away is to engage with the locals. You are in their home, so why would you ignore them? The locals here are very friendly and happy to help answer any questions you may have.
Learning a few words in Bahasa (the native language on Gili T) can go a long way. It shows that you are respecting and embracing their culture. A few simple words to start out with are:
Terima kasih - Thank you
Sama sama - You’re welcome
Apa kabar? - How are you?
Baik dan kamu? - Good, and you?
Saya ingin - I would like….
Selamat pagi - Good morning
Selamat malam - Good night
Even if you don’t learn a lot of the language, showing a little effort by knowing a few words leaves a good impression. What also leaves a good impression is asking questions back. The locals love to engage in conversation and will ask you many questions. Asking them questions in return shows that you want to know about them as well.
Something very simple you can do is smile back. It may seem silly but the number of travellers that act as though the locals don’t even exist is sadly high. A simple smile shows your acknowledgement.
4) Take care of yourself
Something not a lot of people think of when being a good traveller is taking care of yourself. This applies both during the day and at night. No one wants to see a tourist burnt to a crisp or a hungover zombie stumbling down the streets of Gili T!
Two big things you can do, that may seem obvious, are to drink lots of water and wear sunscreen! People often do not realize how much water they are losing through sweat during the day. And trust us, you will sweat just from breathing on Gili T some days! Make sure you hit up those water refill stations we mentioned often. Also, you will lose some of the sunscreen you’ve put on when you jump in the pool or ocean to cool off. Not to sound like your mother, but make sure you are reapplying!
Sidenote: To tie taking care of yourself in with being environmentally friendly, make sure you are using reef-safe sunscreen!!!
Continue to drink that water, even when it cools down at night. Yes, Gili T is known for its legendary parties, and you should absolutely enjoy them. But don't be that guy or girl who pushes their limits and ruins their trip, or someone else's, on a night out. At the very least, prevent a crippling hangover by hydrating throughout the day, up to, and while you are partying. Taking care of yourself makes you a responsible, awesome traveller!
5) Enjoy and Explore
The best way to be an awesome traveller is to, well, travel!! You had to travel to get to Gili T so, once you are here, make sure you travel around and explore the island. The main strip is a lot of fun and has a ton of great restaurants and bars but be sure to spend your days exploring the rest of the island!
There are so many fun and new activities to discover around Gili Trawangan! Try scuba diving and explore the underwater world. Bike all the way around the island and see the different views. Climb the hill and look out into the ocean. By seeing more than just the tourist spots, you will get a better understanding of the area. A better understanding of the area will lead to more respect and interest in it.
So get out there and enjoy Gili T and all of Indonesia!