THE new year is just around the corner, and predictions of the year ahead are being made all over the place. But this time of year is also about reflecting on the past 365 days, looking back at what was brilliant, but also a lot of “what on Earth were we thinking?”
These include some pretty annoying and damn right awful travel trends that should be firmly left in 2017.
The selfie has now made it into the English Oxford Dictionary, and it is certainly ingrained in traveling culture. But not only is this trend ignorant of the cultures around you, it is also quite narcissistic.
First, you may want to think about the other people around you and instead of taking multiple pictures that block others’ views, perhaps just take a few and then actually admire, through your own eyes, what you have traveled to see.
Second, and perhaps a little bit of a daunting realization, but not many people will want to sit and look through the endless pictures of your face in front of monuments. Harsh but true.
Crowding the baggage carousel
Willing your bag to come out of the black hole of the baggage carousel will not make it come any quicker.
But when it does, there is always an awkward and quite comical little run past the other crowders, exclaiming: “That’s my bag, that’s mine… sorry, excuse me… sorry.” In reality, if everyone stood a few paces back and calmly walked to the carousel when they spotted their bag, frustration levels would be kept to a minimum.
If you condone slum tourism, then you can condone poverty. Wandering around impoverished areas in India, Brazil or Mexico, and visiting people far less fortunate than you to enlighten your own knowledge – while being guided by someone who really doesn’t know much more than you – is not an ethical vacation activity.
At best, the tour may be operated by the people who live in slums and can give an accurate and respectful glimpse of what life is like in their makeshift towns. But more often than not, the tours are disrespectful money-grabbing schemes that do not help the local community.
There are tours in which you can participate to benefit the community – they are usually not-for-profit organizations such as Slum Aid. If you insist on exploring these notoriously poor areas then use your privilege to create awareness through social media and other platforms.
Stop riding elephants and cuddling tigers
How do you think tigers and elephants become tame enough to let tourists touch them? They don’t stroll into town and say: “Hello, good sir; I would like to be exploited, even though I am a wild and endangered animal.”
They are sedated and beaten into submission until they have no fight left. By paying for an elephant ride or for the chance to stroke a tiger, you are contributing to the future of this cruel industry.
The new trend of beg-packing basically consists of people privileged enough to travel but ignorant enough not to realize their privilege – or that they may be offending the locals.
Begging is illegal in many countries around the world, but more disrespectful than this is that beg-packing usually happens in developing countries with weaker economies, such as Thailand and Cambodia.
It often falls on the kindness of locals, who are working just to survive, to give backpackers money.