Transitions Abroad Magazine November/December 2003 Vol. XXXVII, NO. 3
Back Door Travel
Alternative Travel Directory of Programs
Program News & Notes
From the Editor
Transitions Abroad has long advocated the type of travel that keeps in mind a place’s culture, people, and environment. The majority of articles in each issue have always incorporated some or all of these aspects of what is considered “responsible travel.” Even so, in the 1980s Clay Hubbs felt this subject warranted its own section, which now appears annually in this Nov/Dec issue. Responsible Travel Resources provides information to help you plan trips that not only do not exploit locals and their homes but even contribute to their betterment.
Though it’s still a subset of “alternative” travel, as opposed to traditional tourism, Responsible Travel is garnering enough interest that we are now adding on to this section with a selection of articles. As these articles illustrate, there is no shortage of diverse experiences to be had. From a trip to help wildlife in Croatia like Charles Round-Turner describes in Volunteering for Vultures (page 26) to a trip like Elizabeth Curran’s, which connected her with environmentally-friendly Nicaraguan farmers at the Miraflor Nature Reserve, the opportunities are varied and increasingly widespread. The common denominator is the satisfaction of leaving a place with the knowledge that you’ve made a positive impact.
We hold hope that one day this healthier mode of travel may become predominant. As Ron Mader, the Latin America Contributing Editor to Transitions Abroad and host of the award-winning Planeta.com website, suggested, responsible travel may even evolve into what he more aptly terms “conscientious” travel—a term that speaks to a way of being that we don’t just pack in our bags for the next big trip.
Conscientious Transitions Abroad travelers not only strive to be good diplomats abroad and leave places better than we found them; we try to advocate on behalf of these beliefs right here in our home country. The fact that much of the international community has continually distinguished between the people of the U.S. and the actions of our government during these troubled times attests to this fact.
It is unfortunate that more of our leaders have not engaged in responsible travel. Had they done so, they might have taken the world’s opinion into account before invading Iraq. More recently, at the WTO talks in Cancun, they might have thought twice about asking poorer countries to join in on open world trade when they were not willing to create at least a level playing field. Our government says it wants to help Africa but then ignores the pleas of poor African cotton farmers who are asking for pennies compared to our dollars. Those travelers who have met these farmers, helped work their fields, dined at their tables, and taught in their schools, know these people and their plight first-hand. It is this experience and understanding that shapes responsible citizens and makes a difference.
We’re glad you’re our kind of traveler. We hope the articles and resources you’ll find in this issue and on our newly designed website, www.TransitionsAbroad.com, will inspire you.
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