I read an article about how the rise of the global tourist is killing Europe. It described how locals are being isolated and alienated in their own cities as bus loads of tourists arrive with their selfie sticks and cameras. Fresh off the cruise boat they don’t spend much, but they strip the place of its ambiance like a horde of locusts.
Am I a travel locust?
It was a slap in the face that I could not ignore.
It made me sad to think I could be part of a global problem, after all I have Do Iceland on my bucket list! Am I going to make it harder for the inhabitants? Will they get kicked out of their homes so I can rent a place on AirBnB? Will I be welcome? I have always felt that my tourist dollars were welcome. But at what cost? Sure I add to the local economy, but if it means the locals are unable to enjoy the amenity of their own home to the extent described by this article; I don’t want to be a part of that!
It got me thinking about my “travel values” and my “value as a traveller”. I generally travel solo although I have joined in on small group tours run by the likes of Intrepid and Peregrine. My impact must be lower than a cruise boat which docks with 2500 passengers for a few hours. It must; mustn’t it? I try not to exploit the locals by acting like the rich tourist who barters over the equivalent of 50 cents. That makes me an ethical traveller? Doesn’t it?
It’s time to examine my travel values. Here is an interview with my right shoulder guy (Reggie) and my left shoulder guy (Louie)
Why do you want to travel Louie? To experience new things and to learn about the world. To increase my knowledge of and therefore acceptance for, people different to myself. To decrease the boundaries between myself and “the other”.
Is that the only reason: Ok so there is a little bit of one-up-manship in there too. Also a bit of vanity publishing as evidenced by this blog. Listen Reggie we want to be famous! This is our fledgling side hustle here!
We don’t have to fly somewhere on a jet and add to carbon emissions to experience something new? That’s true. Perhaps we don’t. But we have our reputation as a budding photographer to consider here Reggie.
Ahh yes maybe? But Australia is an amazing place! Can’t you take fabulous photos here too? Yes we could but to travel for two weeks around Australia would cost us as much as four weeks in Asia and….
See there you go you are a hypocrite! It’s all about money! NO! It’s not! I want to be a mindful, thoughtful, considerate, intelligent traveller….
Yeah sure sure you do!
But I actually do.
What ARE my travel values?
- To do no harm
- To meet and talk to the people who live in a place as people not as photo opportunities.
- To pay a fair price, not the lowest price.
- To take time in one place. Quality not quantity of adventures.
- To be active. Walk more, fly/drive less.
- To add value by taking less than I give.
- To get to know places well.
- To make friends.
- To reciprocate.
- To be a good ambassador for my own culture/country.
My travel slate is clear for 2019 at this point in time. With a serious drought affecting all of my own home state, I think I might make it a year to travel local and see more of this Wide Brown Land. My dollar will do more good here than abroad.