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Is travelling selfish?

Travel Forums General Talk Is travelling selfish?

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101. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting amanecer

the pollution made by tourists (travelling by plane) is the last danger if compared with the pollution made by industries, traffic and daily bad behaviour.
I mean, the one who use the car everyday, waste water everyday, buy foods coming from abroad and so on, and maybe select a trekking vacation, in my opinion, is worst than the one who cares the environment all around the year and flights for its vacations (and once arrived respect the local habits, contributes to the local economical growth and so on).
respecting the local habits and travelling to enrich our knowledges it would be the point, and the meaning of travelling.
Selfish are instead governments policies about environment, weak almost everywhere.
the one who has visited the polluted cairo maybe will come back home more conscious about the consequences of pollution. I would send all our politics to live in Cairo for 6 months....
I always use public transports to move inside my contry, rather than car, but, f.e., buses pollute, trains use electricity and so on...the only way to avoid completely pollution is walking/biking everywhere, and that's impossible.Besides, in my country many villages or town are no connected at all by public transport (or connected maybe 1/2 times a day). Big cities, f.e. rome, hasn't a developed public transports, and some peripherical areas of the city are very bad connected to the centre. And so on...
So that sometimes, daily "bad " behaviour are forced by circumstances, not by personal choices..
In conclusion, I agree with everyone who tries to sensitize people to environmental problems, and try to care everyday our nature, but saying that travelling is selfish it's - in my personal opinion- pretentious.

I totally agree with you, especially your last point.

102. Posted by cat009 (Budding Member 28 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I've been reading posts on here since the start of this year when we were planning our trip to South America.

Your comments about flying being irresponsinble are very common. You come across as some sort of eco-warrior who berates anyone who dares to suggest using an aeroplane. So I'm glad you've started this thread for hopefully a sensible debate.

Travelling is selfish, I have the money and time to travel to foreign places. This makes me lucky and more privledged than many people in the world. But that doesn't make me want to stay at home. If that makes me selfish then so be it.

If your vacation is time limited then sometimes taking internal flights is ok. The flights will fly come what may, so maybe it's better that they are full.

The arguments about tourism's worth will rage on forever. I think each individual has to do what they feel is right for them. Personally I think that if you respect the places and people then the financial contribution I make as a tourist does more good than the footprint I might leave

103. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I think we should do what we comfortably can, to protect the environment. Travelling is the most important hobby, for a lot of us here, so not flying would be too much of a sacrifice.
On the other hand, we can prevent damage, in areas which are not so important, to us.
Here is what i do, to minimise damage, to the environment.
recycling almost everything, i use.
not owning a car
giving away things, i no longer need, rather than tossing them in the garbage.

Yes, travelling is selfish. But selfish seems to be too negative a word, to use. Not sure what word, i would replace it with.


104. Posted by BSNomad (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Interesting topic. It reminds me a bit of the argument of whether it is ethical to keep animals in a zoo. Two sides 1)No it is cruel and unnatural to the animals 2)When the public is able to see the beauty of wild animals they will be more inclined to strive to protect them in the wild.

Yes, when we travel we expend resources. However, when we educate ourselves about other parts of the world (and there is no better way than seeing them for yourself) we are better able to make decisions and take action to protect what we have learned about. Aren't you more passionate about caring for the places you love? There are ways to travel more responsibly than others in terms of environmental issues. In addition, those of us going from western gas guzzling countries to those with much less wasteful societies, are expending fewer resources in our visited countries than we would at home.


[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please. ]

105. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I think nomad's post makes excellent sense, esp. the part on extended stays. If we all would adapt our travelling aspirations to our time frame, the burden that tourism puts on the environment would decrease dramatically.

106. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Ive often pondered the same question both before and during my travels...and usually have come to the same conclusion that, yes, essentially travel is a selfish endeavour, though not entirely. If you are a responsible traveller, there are many ways you can benefit the places you visit. The littlest of acts help.

One shouldnt assume that just because a traveller chooses to fly that there are a complete ignoramus or totally impervious to the planet's distress. Very few people are not aware these days of what is happening around them..

I choose to fly long distances. I go overland as much as possible. I congratulate anyone who manages to do the latter entirely. However, the problem I have with a lot of environmentalists is this:

99% of the time, the message they seem to be trying to send never gets across. Why? Because they cant help but inject it with a massive dose of self-congratulation. It's too easy to get people's backs up, and then they wont listen. And it would seem to me a more sincere endeavour, if the message was delivered in a gentler, more suggestive and ultimately less condescending way.

If you appeal to people's better natures and intelligence, there's always a good chance you will get some kind of positive response back.

Interesting thread Bentivogli, a good read.

107. Posted by phileas (Respected Member 67 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

the latest stats sent from my friend who studies climate change for the British Antartic Survey (bonified? perhaps)

[quote]After several recent pub debates in which I bandied around dodgy statistics,
I thought the following information might be of interest to some of you.

Mode of transport Grams of CO2 per passenger mile
Air 640
Taxi 357
Petrol car 298
Diesel car 225
Hybrid car 200
Tube 171
Rail 116
Bus 90
Cycle or walk 0

I haven't checked the provenance of these numbers fully so you should
investigate further according to your own prejudices. There are lots of
assumptions involved, in particular how many people are in each vehicle and
how efficient that vehicle is.

Note that the data are per mile, so flying a long distance once a year is
probably more damaging than driving short distances all year.

I got the data from, which is mainly
based on Department of Transport statistics.

Happy travelling!

108. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

phileas, that is very interesting indeed. But how on earth could travelling by taxi contribute with more CO2 emissions than a petrol car? Actually, per defenition, there are always at least two persons in a taxi - whereas (sadly) most private cars are only carrying one person at the time.

I don't mean to criticize, I'm just curious.


109. Posted by Peter (Admin 6420 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Quoting snatterand

phileas, that is very interesting indeed. But how on earth could travelling by taxi contribute with more CO2 emissions than a petrol car? Actually, per defenition, there are always at least two persons in a taxi - whereas (sadly) most private cars are only carrying one person at the time.

I don't mean to criticize, I'm just curious.


Probably the chauffeur isn't included as a 'passenger', considering they are only there to move you around and if anything are contributing weight to the car. Considering that and the fact that they often have to drive around to pick you up in the first place, it would be more.

That said, I think the cab option is still better than the car generally, just because if more people used them, then people might own fewer cars. And that in turn means far less C02 generated during the creation of the car.

110. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

My flatmate told me during the week that because many Americans are so grossly overweight now that their cars have to burn double the fuel to get them from A to B.

If you extrapolate that, isnt it then just as environmentally unfriendly to have that extra doghnut or slice of pizza as it is to board a long-haul flight?

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