5 Things Not to Do on a Round-the-World Trip
When you arrive in a new city, you hear about all the cool tours and day trips—and may forget to think about the impact your choices have on tourism and local practices. Take some time to consider if you would do any of the following:
1. Visit an orphanage
There seems to be a growing number of people who want to give back to the community by visiting an orphanage and spending the day with the children. Unfortunately, this is a darker side of tourism and in some places, these children are not orphans, but are brought to the area for the day. Read more about this disturbing type of tourism at Monkeys and Mountains.
2. Ride an animal
In the beginning, it seems great to ride a dolphin or elephant or even visit a tiger zoo. But in many cases, if you knew how these animals were treated you would never want to be part of this kind of tourism. If you are dying to ride a dolphin, just watch The Cove. If you absolutely need that photo from Thailand riding an elephant, read this post from Diana Edelman about how the elephants are treated. Many animals working in tourism are not treated well. There are some reputable operators for visiting animals, but you’ll need to do some research.
3. Give money to a child
This is a tough one as it is so difficult to say no to a child, and I will admit I have made this error. In Cambodia, at Siem Reap, I just could not say no to the children pleading with me to buy 10 postcards for a dollar.
In the short term, I felt better, but I now realize that as long as children can make money through begging or selling items, they will not be able to go to school. The worst part is that once children reach adolescence and are no longer cute enough to sell the postcards, they don’t have any education and may not have the skills to make a living as an adult.
4. Pay money to volunteer
There are a number of organizations charging thousands of dollars to well-intentioned tourists who want to make a difference. Unfortunately, much of that money goes to big corporate offices and little to the cause. If you going to be a long-term traveller, there are many opportunities on the road where you can work hands-on with an organization. Other than covering your own food, accommodation and some supplies, you shouldn’t have to pay a small fortune to lend a hand.
5. Forget to tip your guide
If you can, choose a local guide—and when you do, don’t forget that most of them are not paid or are paid such a low amount of money that they must depend on tips. You may have paid a decent amount for your tour, but give a bit of extra money to the person who made it so enjoyable.