5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler

how to be an ethical traveler
5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler

Every traveler shares an equal responsibility in practicing ethics and respect throughout their journey in foreign lands. Whether it is to promote social welfare, advocate animal rights or to contribute to environmental conservation, being an ethical traveler is an all-embracing role that requires effort and empathy.

I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management.
- E. B. White

5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler

Avoid animal rides

When traveling, it's best to pack your compassion along in your suitcase. Shocking reports have revealed that thousands of animals are enslaved, abused, and exploited solely for the purpose of generating revenue in the tourism industry. To make such attractions possible, young animals are forcefully separated from their distraught mothers and are beaten into submission so they would willingly perform tricks, give rides or even to pose for the camera.

The world's cruelest animal tourist attractions include:
  1. Riding on elephants
  2. Selfies with tigers
  3. Walking with lions
  4. Bear parks
  5. Holding sea turtles
  6. Dolphin shows/swimming with dolphins
  7. Monkey shows
  8. Civet cat coffee plantations
  9. Cobra kissing
  10. Crocodile farming
  11. Bullfighting
  12. Horse-drawn carriage rides
  13. Ostrich racing and riding
  14. Fish pedicure

common travel ethics
Do not contribute to animal cruelty when you travel

Respect religious sites

In many countries, religion is of utmost importance - so much so that 64 countries have religious symbols on their national flags. Places of worship are where the community gathers to share their beliefs and to connect to their faiths, making it crucial for visitors to respect these holy sites. A few important measures include:
  1. Avoid revealing clothes (completely covered to the elbows and knees)
  2. Avoid taking photographs of statues unless permitted (most Buddhist temples strictly prohibit photography inside the buildings)
  3. Silence/Turn off phones
  4. Avoid unnecessary conversations inside the building, particularly when worshipers are praying
  5. Cover head/remove shoes if required

Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler
Inside a church in Stockholm, Sweden
how to be an ethical traveler
A Tibetan Stupa

Respect the host

When I travel, I always remind myself that I am merely a guest in someone else's country. Being courteous is important, as it is to always dress appropriately, be humble, and to not raise any disturbance. Although you may find the locals behaving or dressing less conservatively than they should have been, keep in mind that it is their prerogative to break away from their cultures, and you, as a tourist, do not share the same privilege of doing so. In this case, fitting in is always better than standing out!

Be a conscious shopper

Shopping for souvenirs? It is crucial that you learn about the origins of your purchases to make sure that no lives are harmed or resources wasted in the process of making them. In certain countries, you may come across vendors selling keychains containing trapped live animals, or animal farms selling leather goods and purses. Listen to your conscience and buy only what you think is right.

how to be an ethical traveler
Live animals trapped in plastic casing and sold as keychains

Do not litter

Whether you are in Singapore (where littering is punishable by law) or in the suburbs of a third world country, discarding your rubbish in anything other than a trashcan is a degrading and undignified act. As a traveler, understand that you, too, play a role in keeping the country clean.

Be an ethical traveler now
A responsible and ethical traveler leaves nothing but positive impacts to the places that he or she travels to. Change the way you travel today!

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