During one of our Conversation Tables (every Wednesday at 5 pm on Zoom), we got the opportunity to discuss in English about a topic that concerns us all: ethical travel. But what does it mean, actually? What does travelling in an ethical way imply? Well, by sharing with us their many experience-based anecdotes as travellers or adventurers, our participants helped us to sort things out and understand this rather complex notion. They told us what it meant, in their opinion, to be an “ethical traveller”.
For some of them, travelling ethically means respecting the environment. It means being conscious of the impact our trip can have on the world and on the local biosphere and population. It means choosing certain means of transport over others, favouring closer destinations and realising how beautiful our home country can be, rather than always yearning for the other end of the planet.
For some others, travelling ethically means being in contact with the local community. It means choosing to sleep at local people’s home with couchsurfing, rather than in hotel rooms which tend to be isolated from the reality of the country. It means hitchhiking or carpooling, rather than taking your own car: that way you get to meet new people and create a real exchange (and it’s more eco-friendly!).
And for others, travelling ethically means avoiding certain activities that we know to be harmful, and this for different reasons (either because they pollute a lot, or because they imply mistreated animals, etc.). You can also try to avoid certain restaurants or certain big companies. For example, we talked a lot about some voluntourism companies which take advantage of their “ethical” (if not “humanitarian”) image, but are actually only interested in sucking money out of good willing volunteers who don’t really get to contribute to local people’s lives.
In a nutshell, this conversation table enabled us all to learn a lot from each other’s experiences. And you know what’s even better? We all improved our English! ?