How to be an ethical traveler

This text has been excerpted from an article in The Christian Science Monitor.

  • BE AWARE OF WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING, and patronize locally owned inns, restaurants, and shops. Try to keep your dollars (or baht, or pesos) within the local economy.
  • NEVER GIVE GIFTS TO CHILDREN, only to their parents or teachers.
  • REMEMBER THE ECONOMIC REALITIES OF YOUR NEW CURRENCY. A few rupees one way or another is not going to ruin you. Don't get all bent out of shape over the fact that a visitor who earns 100 times a local's salary might be expected to pay a few cents more for a ferry ride, a museum entrance, or an egg.
  • BARGAIN FAIRLY, and with respect for the seller. Again, remember the economic realities of where you are. The final transaction should leave both buyer and seller satisfied and pleased. Haggling for a taxi or carpet is part of many cultures; but it's not a bargain if either person feels exploited, diminished, or ripped off.
  • LEARN AND RESPECT THE TRADITIONS AND TABOOS OF YOUR HOST COUNTRY. Each culture has its own mores, and they're often taken very seriously. Never, for example, pat a Thai child on the head, enter a traditional Brahmin's kitchen, or open an umbrella in a Nepali home.
  • CURB YOUR ANGER, AND CULTIVATE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. Anger is a real issue for Westerners - even the Dalai Lama remarks on this. It's perversely satisfying, but it never earns the respect of locals or defuses a bad situation. A light touch - and a sense of cosmic perspective - are infinitely more useful.
  • LEAVE YOUR MEDIA-BASED PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE WORLD AT HOME. The inhabitants of planet Earth will continually amaze you with their generosity, hospitality and wisdom. Be open to their friendship, and aware of our common humanity, delights, and hardships.
The full list is available at

<< Previous | Next >>

Threats | Saving Madagascar's Environment