- First, do no harm. Tourists and the tourism industry are often the driving force for travel, rather than the perspectives of the communities that receive and host them. Be thoughtful and intentional about the personal decisions you make when traveling to avoid doing harm. Befriend and speak to locals where possible. The more you understand the local community, the more you can make decisions that don’t affect them negatively. Spend some time considering how the local community may view your presence or activities. Seek advice (from locals or local partner organizations) on how to carry out your activities to avoid causing disturbance.
- Understand the issues. Some consequences of tourism can include disturbing the distribution of power, or putting stress on local organizations or institutions, for example, if visitors take more resources than they bring.
- Consider the unintended consequences of good intentions. If you are working as a volunteer of some sort, be clear about how your work will be used and be able to inform people about this in a clear and concise way, without promising unrealistic results. Make sure to hand over any activities being carried out or findings, results, general knowledge, etc. to the local community, so that activities can be continued locally.
- Support the local industry. When planning guided tours, transportation or accommodation, research options that support the local economy and bring much needed wealth to communities. Pack light – and buy from local entrepreneurs if necessary.
Recommended Reading on International Experience
- Mountains beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder
- The Road to Character by David Brooks
- Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid by Jessica Alexander
- The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan Katz
- In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
- Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert Kaplan
- Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History by Robert Kaplan
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
- No Hurry to Get Home: The Memoir of the New Yorker Writer Whose Unconventional Life and Adventures Spanned the 20th Century by Emily Hahn, Ken Cuthbertson, Sheila McGrath
Websites and Articles
- Why We Travel by Pico Iyer (PDF)
- Princeton Traveler’s website
- Pico Iyer’s Ted Talk
- Useful article from the Washington Post on working at NGO's and "How NOT to save the world"
- Book Review: Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering, by Judith Lasker