Enrich your travel experience
Museum of Anthropology
The 4Hs of Tourism
Documentaries by Valene Smith
Life is a journey not a destination
—Vincent Van Gogh
Enrich your travel experience
HABITAT: Climate? Landforms? Resources? Lifestyle & Activity?
The first of the 4H’s looks at geography and weather… and educates a guest to change their expectations for food on menus.
It trains you to recognize a town’s resource base — such as agriculture or industry. Finally, what activities have evolved because of the habitat?
A conscious tourist will be ready for a wildlife adventure, or equally respectful and appreciative of siestas. They will eagerly converse about an outdoor activity that the casual visitor might overlook — all based on the knowledge of the land and the particular pleasure of the people who have for generations made this place home.
Climate? Landforms? Resources? Lifestyle & Activity?
It affects every aspect of your trip — but an aware traveler also realizes that habitat dictates whether a people have thrived, survived, or are disappearing.
Habitat is perhaps the greatest influence on the character of a people. How do they deal with the climate? Or teach their children to negotiate their land? And what are you learning about human ingenuity as you observe their methods of travel and work?
HERITAGE: Origins? Their Stories? Museums?
Perhaps nothing’s as critical as social cue s— the Do’s and Don't's of a new place. They make the difference between superficial invites and warm welcomes. Heritage gives you the insight into the reasons behind social values. It is a prism that breaks the psychology and traditions of a people into cross-sections. How do you get a foothold itnto this — how does a newcomer become enlightened?
The conscious tourist realizes that every story and explanation by a reliable tour guide is one way. Knowing their cosmology — their universal world view — is essential for a proper perspective that is free of ignorance or prejudice. Other ways are by visiting museums and knowing which special collections to tour. These teach about the origins of the people you are visiting — their attitudes toward themselves and their history of conquest or occupation.
Travelers who understand heritage will successfully negotiate subjects such as religion and politics.
And by asking the right questions — whether in a palace or in a taxi cab — you will use your time most efficiently, and more — you will become an ambassador of understanding.
HISTORY: Acts of God? Socio-Political Events?
What changed the direction of the society you’re entering? How did a war— or a queen’s decree — help create the city square you will soon visit? Rotting, rusting, rising, or bright with new paint — a traveler discovers that history is dynamic.
The 4H’s regard history in two categories — events which take place through forces beyond our control and those created by human choice.
Within these two groupings, there are eras of social decline and grand renewal. This includes periods such as, “Before the war”, “During the war” and “After the war”. Such insight will help an educated traveler recognize that these historical phases are also sculpted in the architecture of cities or villages. It is also carried in the attitudes of the folks you meet.
History is defined by specific events and activities which alter heritage — from tidal waves and epidemic diseases to political corruption. It is a major avenue of understanding the belief system, hopes, fears, and resilience of your host country..
HANDICRAFTS: Plastic Arts? Graphic Arts?
Even a backpack traveler will bring something home — it’s in our genes! Still today, as throughout human history, the acquisition of handicrafts is a rite of cultural exchange. What simple steps can you take to ensure an unspoken bond between an artist and you?
Embracing handicraft is an important tool for learning — a single object can hold the values of heritage.
How it’s made can reflect history. What it’s made of can indicate habitat. Handicrafts can be financial investments… as well as tokens of remembrance. They are mementos that connect us back to an experience. They symbolize very special experiences — the host country traits of lifestyle and unique creatures of the land.
How do you save time when deciding about souvenir shops? Why seek “the show” — performances and rituals — and what basic tips would an anthropologist suggest that a conscious traveler be aware of?
The 4H’s broaden the definition from plastic arts— items manufactured — to graphic arts. That video footage of the old storyteller? It’s graphic art, which includes music and dance, as well.
How does one prepare — both mentally and physically — to put their life on-hold and be perfectly open to the unfamiliar ahead? Departures tempt us to be overwhelmed, from the most seasoned to the first-time traveler. Her commonsense reasoning is told in simple video lectures. They describe the 4Hs of Tourism as a basket in which to place travel experiences. Each is a tool which helps develop confidence, street-savvy, and an openness to the wonderful mystery of sinking into something new: a culture, a place, a perspective you could not imagine before.
Learn the 4Hs of Tourism
The 4Hs allow a framework in which to process new information in a responsible way. Tourists arrive with a deeper familiarity of their host’s world-views, connection to the land, hopes for the future and memories of the past. With the 4Hs, the excitement of travel is enhanced as well as harnessed — through key questions which can impact your entire trip.
A remarkably easy formula that develops respect, informed exchanges, and a giving back to the host country.
Use the 4Hs for before-trip planning as well as in-country guidance — and be transformed from a tourist to a smart traveler and welcomed guest.