What brings us joy should never hurt another soul!Aleks Revas
There are many reasons why we travel. Having fun with friends, enjoying new experiences, quality time with the family, moonlight kisses with the loved one, cultural enlightenment .. and many, many more. But they all have one denominator: we want travelling to bring us joy!.
Luckily for us we live in a time when all of the above are easier than ever to achieve. Travelling becomes more and more approachable and in the immediate grasp of many more people. Long gone are the days when travelling agencies held monopolies on our destinations. Now we can mostly do everything on our own (from plane tickets to accommodations, itineraries and all sorts of reservations). And that is absolutely fantastic! I have always believed that travelling, interacting with different cultures and exploring different parts of the world helps us grow as individuals and expands our understanding of this diverse and amazing Earth.
Yet, with the power of this freedom comes great responsibility and, sadly, there are still many (travelers and players on the tourism market alike) who don’t assume it. From the environmental destruction of certain areas to the degradation of historic places and from encouraging the maltreatment of animals to the exploitation of poverty, our perfect “Instagrammable” holiday might be built on a lot of pain.
Our Ethical Stance
We can never know everything and even with the best intentions at heart, we can err. Still, we should always do our best to continue educating ourselves, to do our research and try to be informed:
1. No animal cruelty
Many tourists, most of them out of a genuine love towards animals, allow themselves to unknowingly be caught in all sorts of “fun” or “exotic” activities that involve the use of domesticated wild animals. The sad, sad, story though is that such leisurely activities more often than not are made available to tourists through a whole lot of animal abuse and cruelty. Elephants are not made for riding, tigers are not made to pose, dolphins are not made for jumping through hoops and bears are not meant to be hand-fed. For that one “cute” picture those animals have been tortured so their wild spirit gets broken until they submit to behaviours that go against their natural self. I really ask you, can your smile be truly genuine in such a picture if you only knew the pain behind it?
We have committed ourselves never to partake in activities that involve wild animals for touristic, entertainment or exhibition purposes, nor support financially or otherwise any person or company that has been proven to maltreat animals.
2. Respect the hosts
We all come from different parts of the world and different walks of life so it is only natural that we carry with us our culture, our lifestyles and our principles and views. Sometimes they all blend in nicely with those of our hosts. Yet, there are many places out there where they might actually clash big time. We cannot travel the World demanding that everyone upholds the same standards or life principles as us, when in reality the local cultural might be totally different.
Very often we have seen, tourists exploring old historic cities and villages, acting as if those places are open-air museums and proving a total disregard for the fact that people have their homes there and they need to lead their daily lives without any hindrances.
Similarly, in many occasions we see tourists visiting famous places of worship and treating them as if they were museums, utterly disturbing people praying or showing little consideration for the great meaning those landmarks have for the locals, through the way they dress in such places or they way they behave. For some the face of the Buddha is much, much, more than an exotic interior design decoration just as for others a medieval statue of the Virgin has a much more profound meaning than a historic relic.
The local people of all those places we visit might have different laws, different traditions, different customs and they have a right to uphold them and live by them in their own countries. I always found it very intriguing how travellers still insist on living abroad exactly as they do at home. Sometimes that is very easy to do, but sometimes that would go against the local culture. We seem to forget that if certain activities don’t agree with us we can avoid partaking in them without being offensive to the locals. Even more so, if there are so many or so important cultural discrepancies that we find unacceptable, we should remember that there is an option: Just don’t travel to that destination to begin with, however pretty the scenery is there.
We have committed ourselves to do our best to research and educate ourselves on the local laws, traditions and customs of the countries we aim to visit and to respect them and the residents of those places.
3. Protect the heritage
It is really sad, and somewhat disturbing that in this day and age we still need to discuss about protecting and preserving our natural and cultural heritage. Let’s face it, no matter how much information there is out there, many of us still act in way that seriously jeopardize the future of certain historic or natural sites. Unfortunately tourism is also one of those industries that could lead to destruction unless we control our behaviors when travelling.
We have seen with our own eyes beaches full to the brim with litter at the end of a summer day or tourists climbing atop centuries old monuments just to take that perfect selfie. In our travels we have regrettably witnessed some of the most stupefying things. Couples trying to carve their names on a statue in Rome or travelers bathing in a fountain in Venice. There are but mere examples we have seen ourselves but if one takes the time to research the negative effects of travelling, it really is shocking.
Not travelling at all, is obviously not a solution. We all share a common heritage and of course we want to explore it and to enjoy it; and indeed we should. But, just as those that came before left them to us, we should also make sure we preserve them for the generations to follow. It is not so difficult to clean up after ourselves, to respect the visiting rules and to be considerate to everything around us.
We have committed ourselves to do our best to try and protect the places we visit through responsible behaviors or at the very least not bring and damages to them, to abide by the general norms, conventions or visiting rules.
4. No abuse of poverty
Many of us like to be spoiled when during our vacay. I for one am guilty of that. We all work so hard and when the time comes to evade it all, we do crave for some pampering. That shouldn’t be an excuse though to endorse the exploitation of people for our own delights. Nobody (I hope!) would do that on purpose, but our quest for the fanciest services at the cheapest rates possible does exactly that. Especially when travelling to countries known for high levels of poverty or high unemployment rates that becomes even more stringent. We should always try to make sure that the people who will show us around, iron or evening gowns, give us the massages and work tirelessly to create that bubble of a care-free life for us receive a fair wage and have proper living conditions. Whether they are employed by hotels, restaurants, spas, or any other facilities, it should be our duty to inform ourselves if those facilities have been accused in the past of improper working conditions or abusing their employees.