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Westerners' guilt.

Travel Forums General Talk Westerners' guilt.

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1. Posted by nicnst (Budding Member 11 posts) 9y

How do other people feel about the travelling they've done? I travelled in 2005 and had an amazing time, but since returning I've found it difficult to imagine travelling again. I can't get to grips with the fact that I can give up my job, and spend the best part of a year frivolously observing other people go about their lives, while other people around the world struggle to find food, dress their children, stay healthy. I suppose I just feel guilty. Maybe I need to do some charity work!
Any suggestions?

2. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 9y

Interesting thread. I have a same kind of feeling actually. Maybe not as you because I still travel. Especially in less developed countries I had this feeling. Every one knows that you are the rich (white) man. I often feld ashamed when ignoring a beggar (I gave regurlarly though) or when being in a less developed areas of cities. Its hard to imagine what it is to live like them, in that poverty.

In that sight the world is very unrightful. You the rich guy having the money to get there and stay in hotels and eat in restaurants for a long time. And they living in extremely bad and unhygienic circumstances. Self made houses made of garbage. No regular water. Earning less then a dollar a day by selling coconuts. Yes then you think that you should do something. Things should change in this world. But after a few months you get back in your plane to your cozy house full of luxury. On your lazy couch in front of your flatscreen you have forgotten about the poor people which you feld compassion for. End then you realize and feel guilthy. But what can you do, you want to travel. As long as you give a little change to some beggars and maybe you even give something to charity or special funds, you are good. You are doing your part. Enjoy travel, come on!!!

3. Posted by Ahila (Inactive 1529 posts) 9y

I wouldn't necessary call it a Westerner's guilt but rather a 'human conscience/guilt'. I am from a so-called developing country and see poverty on a daily basis and yes, I feel uneasy as well on the relative state of comfort/living when I see beggars or the homeless on the streets. But by your not travelling, it is not going to make any change in their condition. At least you will have opened your horizons and opened your mind to the real world, instead of being cloistered in your comparatively cosy corner of the world. And, maybe, you will have helped them a little by giving them a meal's worth of change...

So, travelling should be seen as positive. At least, that's how I see it.:)

You could however go on a volunteer travel, the current trend of responsible tourism, where you pay your food and lodgings with a family-run guesthouse, which also is a center for community work. And, you get a double reward: getting to know the rural community first hand, instead of just passing by as a voyeur and also contributing to the community's development.

Have fun travelling and continue exploring and addressing what bothers you about travelling to less financially well-off countries! ;)

4. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Nicnst

U feeling guilty is not going to help those struggling to survive, around the world, so feel worthy instead. U travelling is not what is putting them in their unfortunate situations.

What i do, when travelling is make myself as informed as possible, about what life is like for the people I encounter, both in advance, and during travel. Then I know if I can comfortably do something, to help them. That is often possible. Small things can mean a lot to those who receive them and are almost effortless for me to give. Just keep your eyes and ears open, and do what u can.


5. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

i dont feel guilty at all. its just a part of life.

truth be known all these poorer countrys are getting better. slowly but surely.

look at ireland? it was only 30-40 years ago that ireland was one of the poorest countrys going around. 3rd world country too! now look at ireland. over loaded with money and one of the richest states out there!

france was struggling too many moons back and was in fear of collapsing! as for germany.

argentina too which went bankrupt! but is on the mend.

every country has its poor! why is it any different if you go to cambodia or any other country when one can go into there own city slums to witness the exact same?

a nation of people starving, a suberb of people starving? no difference...people are starving weather its in another country or your own country....but then maybe the people who beg in your own country are there because they want to be there...i know they are in here in dublin because they are drug addicts or / alcoholics when they could get a job if they like but they are lazy! i spit on those kind....when people from other countrys given half a chance would kill for any bit of work for money.

people travel thousands of miles to help others when the problem can be in your own backyard were one can help!

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 25, 2007, at 3:24 AM by oslaue ]

6. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 9y

Quoting oslaue

every country has its poor! why is it any different if you go to cambodia or any other country when one can go into there own city slums to witness the exact same?

If you say this, you don't understand a thing. I guess you never went to a third world country. I would be amazed!

7. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 9y

Quoting oslaue

truth be known all these poorer countrys are getting better. slowly but surely.

Are you kidding me? Look here. To quote the opening paragraph alone: "Africa is by far the world's poorest inhabited continent, and it is, on average, poorer than it was 25 years ago."

8. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

africa isnt a country its a continent....tway we all know that wikipedia can be written and edited by anyone:)

parts of africa may be getting worse but parts of it are getting way south africa.

wouterrr - thailand is a 3rd world country.....

9. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 9y

Quoting oslaue

africa isnt a country its a continent....

Forgive me for assuming you'd make a stretch of the imagination.

For more info about the current state of African countries such as the Sudan, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, etc. etc., please refer to such sites as UNICEF and OXFAM. Then please read their urgent appeals for clean water, sanitary facilities, nutritional supplements, vaccinations, malaria nets, HIV/AIDS treatments, classrooms, school supplies, teacher training, girls' education, help to rescue child soldiers, post-trauma psychologial aid, and so on. Then tell me these countries are better off today than they were in the past.

Your original statement was, and I quote word for word: "truth be known all these poorer countrys (sic) are getting better." They are not.

10. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

i was referring to countrys that people actually visit / holiday in! not countrys that are going through civil wars!