Perspective on Responsible Travel

A great deal has been written in recent years about the rules of “responsible travel”….. notably bloggers stressing ethical and fair tourism practices. The definitions vary quite widely from that point, but it’s clear that more and more travelers are becoming more mindful of their effect on other cultures as tourists…. and the impression they leave on local people. As “volunteer vacations” have entered the mainstream, dangers lurk in balancing the volunteer’s personal goals with true service to the local community. Global Volunteers, an international development assistance organization providing “volunteer vacations,” enthusiastically endorses efforts to blend cultural enlightenment with all forms of travel. In fact, it is a foundational element of their Philosophy of Service, adopted in 1984, and guides their` “best practices” for ethical, responsible travel.

A cornerstone of Global Volunteers’ philosophy is to honor and uphold local people’s inherent problem-solving capability, and to respect the community’s traditions. Travel that respects local culture and practices fosters authentic interaction and greater mutual understanding and appreciation. In this way, responsible travel can enhance international peace waging efforts. Global Volunteers is guided by a unique belief that to be successful as a vacation volunteer, you must appreciate and embrace the direction of those you seek to assist. This way, we take care not to exploit those who have generously invited us into their community. Rather, we are aware at all times that we are “guests” on a journey.

“One of the most memorable events for me was listening to the village children sing. They had no accompaniment, but they sang with gusto. It was like life there – they don’t have a lot of material things, but they live their lives with gusto. It was inspirational.” ~ Ramon Galinanes, NJ

Global Volunteers’ generous host partners strive to engage volunteers fully in the day-to-day life of their communities, and in doing so, maximize each vacation volunteer’s potential to truly make a difference. Combining service and travel is one of the most direct and personal ways you can address some of the world’s pressing issues: poverty and injustice. It’s one of the most direct, and rewarding ways to learn about another culture “from the inside.” And, by choosing an international leader as your guide, you can “make a world of difference” along the way. Now, that’s responsible travel!

Learn more about responsible travel and Global Volunteers at

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