From the Editor
Since 1980 Transitions Abroad has published the Overseas Travel Planner as the first issue in each new volume year. Our team of editors selects the best resources for Disability Travel, Family Travel, Living Abroad, Senior Travel, Teen Travel, and Web Sites. This year we have expanded our selection of the best planning resources to include those for independent travelers seeking Responsible Travel Vacations—tourism that supports the people and their cultures as well as the environment.
We’re all aware of the negative impacts of travel, whether it’s the airplanes that transport us or the rainforest lodges that provide us with potable water and process our waste. (As Deborah McLaren says in her landmark book, Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel, “For a tourist to have truly minimal impact, she would have to walk to the destination, use no natural resources, and bring her own food that she grew and harvested.”)
But no matter how much we want to do right by the earth and its people, we cannot deny our incurable wanderlust. And who can deny the benefits and the need for enlightened international travel, which brings people of diverse backgrounds together to share human knowledge, perspectives, understanding, and friendship.
We can’t stop traveling, but we can at least acknowledge that as “tourists” we have the power of choice over how we will travel—responsibly or not.
Starting with this issue and looking ahead to the November/December special issue on ecotourism, we are challenging ourselves to build upon Transitions Abroad’s and Deborah McLaren’s pioneering work. We are heeding Deborah’s call to take tourism a step further into the “responsible tourism movement…designed primarily to make people-to-people connections so that citizens of the world can experience the realities of other societies and environments.” As Deborah says, “Connecting with each other at a human level allows both the so-called hosts and guests to observe and learn from one another in more equitable, realistic terms.”
This issue’s Responsible Travel section identifies resources that can lead to experiences that foster international understanding and cooperation, political and economic empowerment of local populations, and cultural preservation, as well as the assurance that the community actually benefits from or has some ownership of the experience.
And, as we move into our 28th year of publishing, we look forward to continuing to provide you with the best resources for the alternatives to traditional tourism that appear on our web site (www.TransitionsAbroad.com) and in each issue throughout the year.