Travel is endlessly enchanting, with the power to entice wanderers in, and never let them go. The ‘travel bug’ if you will…
But while this sense of wonder and exhilaration is one of the most invigorating parts of travel, it’s also something to be wary of. Far too often, nomads find themselves falling for quintessential ‘experiences’ that seem exotic and exciting on the surface. Yet delve a little deeper, and it can turn out that there’s a dark side to some of the activities that attract tourists like bees to honey.
Here’s five not to fall for…
Are you being culturally insensitive?
In climates that are hot, humid and downright sultry, it’s only natural to reach for clothing that’s barely there. This wardrobe strategy may work in Thailand’s southern sun kissed beaches, but venture up north or head to predominantly Muslim parts of Malaysia and clothing ideals are far more conservative. While you’re at it, spare a thought for other cultural issues that are often overlooked, like binge drinking, antisocial behaviour, PDAs and so on.
Should you really ride that elephant?
Eakwiphan Smitabhindhu / Shutterstock.com
For decades, riding elephants has been a rite of passage for Thai travelers. But over the past few years, mentalities have started to change… The mistreatment of these incredible mammals has landed in the spotlight, and ‘elephant tourism’ is rapidly gaining a stigma. Want the facts? Globally, World Animal Protection estimates that at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible tourist attractions. If you love tusks, floppy ears and dreamy brown eyes, don’t ride elephants that look abused! Period. The good news is that there are a host of responsible alternatives to choose from, like visiting sanctuaries and volunteering.
Is it ethical to snuggle up with tigers?
Snapping selfies with tigers is another controversial ‘experience’ that enlightened travelers love to hate. Sure, you may snag a swipe right worthy Tinder pic, but the reality is that these wild animals aren’t living out their lives like the wild animals they are. Almost all are chained, most are drugged and even if they’re not, lying around all day posing with tourists just ain’t where they belong. No matter how many monks are involved.
Does buying a book off a cute kid really help them?
gary yim / Shutterstock.com
If you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ve likely experienced the adorable kids selling books, bracelets and other souvenirs. It’s SO tempting to hook them up, but don’t forget to ask yourself why these little cuties aren’t in school. Often, their parents force them to choose the street over the classroom, purely because they make cash selling smiles and souvenirs to impressionable tourists.
Are Bangkok ping pong shows decent?
Casper1774 Studio / Shutterstock.com
There’s no escaping the fact that when partying in the ‘Big Mango’ a trip to a ping pong show is on the cards. Or not. Yes, some of the girls (or lady boys) are there by their own free will, but many of the lovely ladies are actually victims of human trafficking. And that’s a niche nobody wants to be affiliated with.
Are your eco experiences Mother Nature approved?
Generally, nature lovers have a pretty good grasp on what’s responsible, and what’s not. But sometimes, the lines can be blurry. Hikers, climbers and mountain bikers are pretty switched on when it comes to conservation, but in some countries a thirst for adventure has sparked a new trend that sees local environments imposed on, for the sake of eco-tourism. Ironic, we know.
We’re not saying to blindly follow these guidelines, but we are calling on fellow globetrotters to think long and hard about some of the experiences they seek out, and whether or not they align with goals of sustainable, responsible and ethical travel.
- Tags: Travel and Adventure