Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Traveling ethically

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A beautiful, unpolluted beach in Maine where I grew up spending summers with my family at an environmentally-friendly hotel. The sustainability bug bit me young...

I've written before about sustainable travel (both environmental and economic), and so I was heartened today to hear that there are folks out there who think and write about travel not only through the lens of sustainability (that's nothing new), but through ethics as a whole.

Travel and ethics gets to be a sticky issue quickly, so I appreciate the in-depth conversations happening over at Ethical Traveler, as well as this piece in today's Salon - timely, with spring break coming up for so many people! Sustainability is generally taken as an objective goal that can be worked toward without (too much) disagreement, while any notion of ethics immediately cuts to the subjective and the personal. Discussing someone's hard-earned annual vacay as an ethics issue, and implying that they're "bad" for traveling in one way or another, is an invitation to people to get their hackles up.

And that exact defensiveness is usually your first hint that a) you're on to something, and b) that something is privilege (you know, that comfy position from which you could choose not to acknowledge problems). It's so nice to take a mindless vacay (I'll be in Miami in May, beaching it up), but how much better when you can truly relax, knowing you've done everything in your power to help the folks who make your vacation possible, and the destinations that provide livelihoods and cultural heritage to us all?

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