Before anything else I want to say a big THANK YOU to those of you who visited my new Facebook page and posted on the wall! Those of you who haven't had a chance to do so yet, please head on over - and click Like at the top of the page. Keep coming back for the latest news on solo travel for women, and to exchange ideas with the rest of us.
This month's theme is ethical travel, one of those phrases we run into all the time without necessarily knowing exactly what it means. I certainly get it confused - and use it interchangeably - with similar terms like community travel, responsible tourism, sustainable travel... So if I undertake this kind of travel, I'd like to know exactly what I'm doing. Do you know the difference among them?
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #042
- So what IS ethical travel, anyway?
- Connecting with Women on the Road
- My free travel writing course
- Most Popular Pages Last Month
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Freedom of the Press
Ethical travel takes into account the ethics of a destination, such as its human rights record, for example, its environmental policies or its attitude towards women. You wouldn't consider ethical travel to a country that forcibly relocates thousands of people to build a dam, puts people into prison for speaking their minds out loud, or allows men to get away with rape or torture on the basis that it's their 'culture'.
This kind of tourism is similar to ethical travel but introduces a strong element of choice, especially of destination and transport - cycle, don't drive, take the train, don't fly. It also introduces an element of equity or fairness for local people, as you make your choices based on your beliefs, on the one hand, but also on the wellbeing of local people and the environment.
This is tourism that can be sustained over the long term - you can enjoy it today without destroying things for tomorrow's generations. In other words, the impact of of your travels isn't irreversible or damaging. Chasing an endangered animal until it's exhausted just to get a photograph is an example of unsustainable tourism. So is an excess of visitors to a site that can't support them, or dumping litter or sewage into waterways.
This is a subset of sustainable tourism with a strong ethical component. It ensures that the people whose land or labor or culture are used for tourism also reap the benefits of your travels. Rather than selling mass-produced souvenirs, you'll be buying locally produced handicrafts, with the money going right back into the local economy. Ultimately this kind of tourism helps raise living standards of local people.
What is known as pro-poor tourism is travel designed to actively benefit the poor in any given destination, rather than benefiting major corporations or being repatriated abroad. The difference with fair-trade tourism is that pro-poor tourism is specifically aimed at helping the poorest people in a community, whereas fair-trade tourism is directed at the entire community. Often, though, the distinction is blurred.
This is another variant of the various types of community-oriented tourism. In this case communities are encouraged to open their doors to travelers. Often, impoverished or marginalized inhabitants, especially in rural areas, will open up their homes to you for a night or two. Homestays in the mountains of Vietnam or the Zimbabwean countryside are just two examples of how to enjoy this type of tourism.
An abbreviation of ecological tourism, ecotourism is responsible travel to places whose environment or wildlife is under threat. Facilities are usually small-scale and non-intrusive - no huge hotels or resorts, but small huts or cabins - and are located where ecosystems are fragile and need protection. Visiting the Galapagos Islands with a responsible tour operator might qualify, as could camping in the Masai Mara, whale watching (as long as your boat doesn't chase the whale, of course), or kayaking through the mangroves of the Camargue.
A word of caution: make sure you're getting the real thing. Many outfits are using these labels indiscriminately to attract business while doing people and the environment no good. Please research extensively to make sure your travel is truly ethical and responsible.
Would you like to connect with Women on the Road? There are a number of ways to do that.
- You could begin by sharing your experiences with the rest of us by posting a story on the website - everyone learns something from what others share. This month, read Denita's story about teaching in South Korea.
- Ask me a question! This month, Bronwen was looking for a travel companion and someone stepped forward.
- Follow me on Twitter @womanontheroad for regular bursts
- Write on my Facebook wall at facebook.com/womenontheroad and join this growing community
- Link to my website from your own blog or site
- Like any page on Women on the Road (just click the thumb in the left column)
- And try this new feature: right under the Like button on every page is a Send button: use it to send your favorite page to friends via Facebook or email.
If you or someone you know is getting ready to travel...
...but still needs that little push, a copy of The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide, nicely printed and bound, might be just the right nudge to help you sort things out and get packing.
Find out how to plan and save up for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, take care of those last-minute jitters, and even how to deal with coming home. This e-book is short, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books.
The Art of Solo Travel by Stephanie Lee is feisty, congenial, visual and intelligen and will tell you and your friends everything you need to know about getting out that door.
The autho is an architect turned travel writer. She traveled solo for a year and took plenty of notes along the way. Her advice is eminently sensible, from the obvious - don't walk alone in dark alleys - to using iGoogle for everything from location to translation.
Her central premise? "Embrace your individuality and sense of adventure."
If you'd love to see your name in print and are a travel addict, you may at some point have thought of writing to pay for your travels.
Travel writing has paid for my own travel across several continents so I know a bit about the writer's life and what editors like. I've put a lot of that knowledge together for you in a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of Women on the Road.
Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the self-help assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
1. Travel Packing List
2. Travel Accessories for Women
3. International Travel Nursing
4. Stay in a Monastery
5. Cheap Ways to Travel
6. Women's Travel Clothing
7. Very Cheap International Flights
8. Overseas Jobs
9. Travel Money Belt
10. Female Travel Companions
9 Greek Archaeological Sites That Will Leave You Breathless
Top 10 Underground Walks
657 New Islands Discovered Around the Globe
10 Tips for More Ecofriendly Travel
7 Affordable Places to Go on an African Safari
National Geographic Tours of a Lifetime
Notes from the Road: The Open-Ended Travel Plan
The World's Ten Creepiest Abandoned Cities
Top 10 Types of Travel Theft
For food lovers...
The Changing Landscape of Mesopotamian Flavors
Chinese Dumpling Banquet
Getting Screeched in Bonavista, Newfoundland
The Best Hangover Food from Around the World
Golden Oldies in Beşiktaş
Culinary History Mystery: Garum and Nuoc Mam
...and lovers of other arts
8 Places to Find Art Nouveau Around the World
Sistine Chapel Masterpiece Done in Rubiks Cubes
Literary Paris: Get Stamped at Shakespeare and Co
Music for Spring Journeys
Paul Theroux on Visiting Uncool Places
Iceland's Penis Museum Pulls In the Crowds (yes, really!)
If You're Visual
Capturing One of the Biggest Aurora Borealis
Bangladesh Faces and Questions People Ask
A Different View of Bali
The Galapagos Islands in Photos
10 Crazy Videos and Photos from the Airport Security Checkpoint
Why I Love Nha Trang, Vietnam
Ten Things To Do in Cyprus
Middle Eastern Oddities
7 Experiences Not to Miss in Bolivia
The Argobba: Visiting a Little-Known African Tribe
Top Things To Do in Sicily
Koh Chang: The Last Cheap Thai Island
Freedom of the Press
This week we celebrate World Press Freedom, and the theme for 2011 is "21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers."
But why should we care?
Freedom of the press is key to providing people - that's us - with the accurate information we need to make decisions and exercise our democratic rights. Independent news media uncover information that would rather stay hidden, keeps governments accountable for their promises and spending, and provide us with competing points of view from which we can weigh what we learn and distinguish truth from propaganda.
In developing countries a free press provides the poorest in society with a voice they wouldn't otherwise have and shines a light on such issues as corruption, poverty, health, education or the equality of women. In North Africa and the Middle East recently, it was the media - social media in many cases - which helped bring about change.
A free press requires journalists but the profession is becoming increasingly endangered by repression, harassment, prosecution, assault and even assassination. Each year, more than 1000 journalists are attacked yet many continue to risk their lives to make sure we get the story.
For more information on this important issue:
The 10 Mistakes of First-Time Solo Travelers
(c) 2007-2011, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.