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Responsible Travel Guide

Advice for Ethical Traveling Around the World

1. Make sure you’re well-informed...

You’ll find this standard bit of advice elsewhere on these pages, but it’s absolutely crucial. Read up about where you’re going before you set off!

In terms of ethical traveling, if you behave in a radically different way to inhabitants of the country you’re visiting, you will be having an impact on their world - perhaps even eroding the fabric of their society.

With the globalizing forces exerted by big multinational companies to the fore, the struggle between heterogeneity and homogeneity (sameness and difference) in the world is precariously balanced. Be aware of the effect you might be having on it by traveling..

2. Don’t give things away indiscriminately.

We’re not trying to discourage charity. But if you give to children arbitrarily in poorer parts of the world, you are only encouraging a culture of begging and ultimately a spiral of dependency.

In terms of begging for money, you can’t possibly know what you’re putting your well-meant charity towards. Many countries have sophisticated networks of beggars, often coordinated by a criminal ringleader. It would be far better for all concerned if you gave to a well regarded local project or charity.

3. Don’t haggle too hard.

A lot of people when heading into a culture where bartering or haggling for things is prevalent become fixed against ‘not getting ripped off’. Relax.

If you do pay a little more than the locals would, the chances are whatever you’re buying will still come out pretty cheap compared to back home. Better that than nailing some market trader to the ground for the sake of a few cents.

4. Go easy on the camera.

Make sure you don’t take any photos of somebody (or somebody’s possessions) without their express permission. In many parts of the developing world the camera is not a part of everyday life, and in some countries it is considered extremely rude and even harmful!

5. Be very careful when buying souvenirs.

Take care not to buy trinkets and souvenirs made from local flora or fauna. By buying products made from coral, starfish, shells, fur, ivory, hides, feathers, horns, teeth or eggs (amongst other things), you may be encouraging an elicit trade in endangered wildlife.

6. Respect the monument!

This is a two-pronged piece of advice; firstly, many of the world’s great tourist attractions are suffering from the damage inflicted upon them by too many visitors. If you’re heading off sight-seeing, make sure to minimize the effect of your presence there (see our article on Angkor Wat).

Secondly, if you’re planning to enter a building of cultural or (particularly) religious significance, it’s crucial that you’re aware of how and why it is important to local people, and that your dress and behavior are appropriate.

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