June 24th, 2007

With International Adoption as much about the wider world as it is about our little families … or not so little, in some cases … the idea of our travel as a benefit to others fits well.

With all the talk now of our carbon footprint and how air travel increases the negative impact an individual leaves, the thought of taking off for distant points now seems to require a bit more contemplation.

Traveling to bring our kids home is non-negotialbe for many of us, as we wouldn’t miss that trip for anything and feel the on-the-ground contact is an important beginning for the family.

Birth country visits aren’t anything we’re willing to compromise, either, as those of us who can manage to pull off return trips to our kids’ roots know the great value in such direct contact.


We can, however, do what we can when we can to make sure that our travel does the most good and the least harm.

In the last post, I wrote about a couple of hotels in Cambodia that are set up to pamper tourists, and to train, feed and give hope and futures to the Cambodian people.

Learning about these had me looking around for more information on how to travel well … well in the do-some-good-while-doing-no-harm sense … and I found some helpful sites that can be checked out before adoption travel or simple vacations.

Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel sets its agenda as serving as a source of knowledge on innovative travel and tourism practices that addresses, “travellers’ interests and which also support the economic and social sustainability of destinations.”

Started with a grant from the Ford Foundation, it is now also part of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum.

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit promoting sustainable development and responsible travel by, “providing programs that enable consumers, businesses and travel-related organizations to contribute to the environmental, socio-cultural and economic values of the places they visit, and the planet at large.”

It provides education and outreach services designed to lessen the toll tourism can take on local environments and cultures, and introduces the concept of “Traveler’s Philanthropy”.

When you realize that more than 500 million people travel for leisure every year, the potential for damage by pollution, over-development, depletion of natural resources … including entire ecosystems sacrificed … land-use disputes, cultural contamination and deterioration, loss of indigenous identity, and so on, becomes very clear.

The world gets smaller fast, and some places are being forced to jump over the decades it took other more accessible areas to adjust to the onslaught. This creates problems from emotional adjustment to a whole new world on the doorstep to a lack of basic requirements.

Pro-Poor Tourism is a UK-based organization that was set up to enhance the links between tourism and the poor, so that, “… tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction is increased and poor people are able to participate more effectively in product development.”

Through increasing involvement, local people struggling with poverty can have their needs addressed and be allowed to contribute and benefit from tourism.

Stopping, or even slowing, change on a huge scale in previous backwaters and beauty spots won’t happen. However, if estimates are accurate, charitable giving by Americans alone could exceed $300 billion annually by 2020, providing a real opportunity to reduce the economic inequalities that exist in the world today.

It will be a different world no matter what, and the least we can do is to try to make as many of those differences as possible at least somewhat positive.

One Response to “How to travel responsibly”

  1. Cindy Bodie says:

    Amen on the carbon footprint info, that really needs to be more commonplace information. Thanks for getting it out there.

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