Skip Navigation

Do politics sometimes influence your travels?

Travel Forums General Talk Do politics sometimes influence your travels?

Page

Last Post

1. Posted by Gerrit_BE (Full Member 83 posts) 10y

Being a very political person myself (= being very interested in politics and having an outspoken view on many issues), I was wondering if other travellers ever let themselves be bothered by politics when deciding upon their itinary or next temporary home country. Would you ever refrain from visiting a country because of political issues?
And worse, have you ever felt shame in your own native country because of issues like that?

I have the very unpleasant experience of being in a love-hate relationship with my native country Belgium. I love the cities and the sights, and the good memories attached to it. However, at the same time I am deeply ashamed about the political and social paths the country is currently wandering. Whenever the people I know here in Ireland (where I live since 2004) ask me about Belgium, the only positive things I can say is about how beautiful our cities are and about how beautiful sights we have. Whenever people ask about the society in Belgium, I feel a deep shame and can do no other than to say what I feel is the truth: that Belgium has become a racist hole and seems to target becoming an insular society where everyone not walking the line is considered unwelcome. And the most unpleasant side of it, is that this is how I really experience it, tell me what other country in Europe sees 30% of the people voting for a far-right party with ties with the former SS wing? I like my native country for the many memories and good sights (it was time to move on however, because I travelled inside my own native country extensively for years and have seen almost every corner of it) but since I left the situation has gone even worse and is worrying. When I left, Belgium was still a pleasant place, but mainly the last years it began to get seriously worrying. It kinda feels unpleasant to be associated with a place where racism is so widespread ; while travelling I experienced the bliss of multicultural societies and contacts with people from all corners of the world, and then to see a country I know well rejecting all of that is kinda worrying. It has not been any form of motivation for leaving (the situation was different when I left, the only reason I left is because after 5 years of constant trips within my own country I had the feeling I pushed as far as I could and that it was time to discover the rest of the world) and it is not something worrying me on daily basis. Just something unpleasant whenever I read a newspaper article on racism and think of how Flanders is embracing racist ideologies.

I don't think however general political issues will ever stop me from visiting a place, moving to a place, ... because it's just not that important that it should stop me from exploring the world and realising my lifelong dreams of travelling the world. From childhood on, travelling the world and living in different countries was a dream, and I don't feel like political issues should ruin that dream.
However, I must admit, being a strong campaigner against capital punishment, that I would find it seriously sour to live in a country with capital punishment and pay taxes to a government supporting this form of 'justice' (note the undertone of the word 'justice' in my post) -- apart from that however, politics are important to me but not important enough to stop me from moving to a place or going to a place. I want to see the world and live in different countries, like I always wanted to do with my life, and I won't let myself be stopped by an electoral result in a seriously fascinating country.

PS: I hope this thread may be existing and discussed in a mature way, on a different travel forum everything coming even close to politics is being removed even while no one was discussing in an immature way (which in fact means: censorship)

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 10y

Don't get me started on reasons NOT to live in the Netherlands... I feel a lot like many Americans who rightfully complain about their present government, but then... like things are so good abroad.

I refuse to travel to the US as long as they a) are involved in illegal combat like the war in Iraq, b) violate people's rights to privacy, and c) put their own short-term interest above the greater good (like with the Kyoto treaty and a host of earlier situations). Still, my principles aren't cast in concrete; I expect to be sent to an important conference next year in Berkeley, and I wouldn't dream of not going... how's that for opportunism.

For similar reasons, China and some former Soviet satellites are off my list. But that's pretty much all, I think.

3. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 10y

To be honest, I couldn't give two hoots about politics when it comes to the countries that I have visited.

[ Edit: Edited at Oct 31, 2006 1:11 AM by james ]

4. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Yes, politics influence my travelling.
Because of politics, i am not going to visit Myanmar, in the near future.
And, there would also be politics which effect visitors, to countries, which i would not think worth putting up with. Egs Russia and Cuba.

Mel

5. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 10y

Quoting Mel.

Yes, politics influence my travelling.
Because of politics, i am not going to visit Myanmar, in the near future.

Mel

This is the same for me, even though I would love to as it looks a stunning country and seems an interesting place to visit. I even thought about going, but it's too risky; the money I would spend there would end up in the pockets of the military government, rather then to those who really need and deserve it!

I have joined the Burma Campaign, because I feel so strongly about human rights & democracy issues in Burma (Myanmar).

Please pm if you'd like to know more. Would love to preach & tell people in the Asia forum not to go, but that isn't my style, I'll let people make their own minds up.

6. Posted by Gerrit_BE (Full Member 83 posts) 10y

I also am involved in an idealistic society campaigning for human rights, to be precisely for the most essential one: the right to live. I am a member of ALIVE, which is a campaign group against the death penalty. We mainly campaign against capital punishment in the USA but of course we all want the death penalty to be abolished worldwide. I am a paying member, spread the word through lot of channels, and also sign petitions. It may not be much, but gives me the pleasant feeling of for once doing something idealistic instead of just watching the world destroy itself and do nothing. I wanted to do something idealistic, and had to conclude that capital punishment in my opinion is the cruellest thing existing on this planet. So I just started researching and found a group of people sharing my believe. So I affiliated with them.
Check www.todesstrafe-usa.de

For these reasons, I refuse to live or travel in countries that actively use the death penalty. It's just something I feel it's against my ideology and believes, as being a tourist there, I'd be supporting the government and industry of a nation that kills its own citizens. I cannot do that. I do hope to visit New York and Alaska at some point, but it won't be before the US abolishes death penalty so that I can morally justify myself spending money in the US.
Luckily, the majority of countries abolished by new (including 99% of Europe ) so I still have enough places to visit without worrying about breaking my own ideology!

Must add one thing: one of my best friends also joined ALIVE. How nice is that?
It's sometimes tiring to hear from other people that I'd be 'defending crime' and all that jazz. Which is not the case. I of course believe that crime should be punished. I don't believe in 'eye for an eye' however, and believe the worst thing a government can do is to reduce the value of human life. Regardless how horrible the crime, I find death penalty unacceptable, and won't set foot in a country actively executing.

[ Edit: Edited at Oct 31, 2006 7:53 AM by Gerrit_BE ]

7. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Hello Laura

Have u read
The Glass Palace.
by ? Gosh.

I forget the authors first name. It is a novel, but gives good detail about what led up to what is happening in Myanmar/Burma, now. And it is also an entertaining book, to read.

Mel

8. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Hello Gerrit

I cant understand, why they have the death penalty, at all, in the US. Isnt it just as expensive, to keep somebody on death row and possibly execute them as to put them in another prison. Woulnt a regular prison be enough, to protect society, from dangerous people?

Mel

9. Posted by Gerrit_BE (Full Member 83 posts) 10y

I am probably not the right person to answer things like that: as a campaigner against death penalty, I am obviously not neutral when debating issues like this. Most reports show it's actually more expensive to execute someone after years on death row, instead of keeping him locked up in a regular prison. However, I believe that money should not even be an issue, we're talking about a human life, money shouldn't even be an issue.

What I dislike about the US politically basically is that, while trying to be the world's moral compass, they are about the ONLY western nation that still executes. The US claims to be a human rights defender, but violates the most essential human right on constant basis.

Also, we have reports and statistics showing that countries with the death penalty have no lower crime rate than countries without, and statistics also show that in the majority of cases the family of the original victim did not feel better after an execution. The death penalty doesn't work to avoid new crimes happening, the death penalty doesn't work to help people deal with an earlier murder, the death penalty doesn't work at all. Full stop. It just creates a new victim. And in a cruel way: letting a person count down the days till death (like counting the days until departing on a travel) is emotionally very cruel, more cruel than most murders can ever be. Countries using the death penalty lock their own HUMAN citizens up in a very small cell until they can be brought to the death chamber, and medical scientific knowledge is used not to save lives but to think of 'more human' ways to kill.

I find it hard to label countries with the death penalty fully civilised. I know the US or Japan are civilised countries in practice, but I cannot travel them until they dropped that last remaining element from before civilisation. If I would now move to New York or travel the Route 66, I'd be spending money on the economy of a government that tries to justify murder. I cannot do that, it goes against my own believes.

10. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 10y

Quoting Mel.

Hello Laura

Have u read
The Glass Palace.
by ? Gosh.

I forget the authors first name. It is a novel, but gives good detail about what led up to what is happening in Myanmar/Burma, now. And it is also an entertaining book, to read.

Mel

No I've not read that, I'll have to look for that one.

Thanks.