Is travelling selfish?

Travel Forums General Talk Is travelling selfish?

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61. Posted by tomasbacon (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I agree with James...sure none of us want to intentionally harm anything or anyone, but come on, get off your soap boxes, for 90% of people flying is the only reasonable afforadable option and if someone only gets two weeks holidays, who are we to say that they shouldnt do a whistle stop tour of South America/Europe/Canada . ... whatever. Get over your own self importance.

62. Posted by SeeTheSky (Full Member 558 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

survival is selfish.
guaranteed that is not a generalization used to justify all selfish actions.. it is true of our existence does depend on the death of other beings. plants, animals, ecosystems.. but don't get me wrong, i dont think that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to help out everyone and everything we can.. it just means, you have two choices.. die, or accept the fact that living means taking away from something or someone.

the bottom line is, just try.. try to not be wasteful, live simply, dont wantonly destroy anything living that you can avoid, just try to live in harmony. there is a cycle of life and death, a natural cycle that works fine.. humans are just a very drastic pull on that cycle.

so be conscious of your choices, of life around you. but dont hate yourself for wanting to live fully. the key is moderation, and that is true of all things in human nature.

my philosophy on the subject, and those encompassing it.
Thanks for reading,

63. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

To me the selfishness lies not so much on the fact that, in this case, air travel is harmfell in most respects to the environment. I look it more as a complete picture of the world, and what effect will it have for the future of all life. Every choice we make sense a ripple into the future.

It seems people are very concerned with humanity's survival. That at all costs humans should be able to carry on. I personally don't see why, but for someone who thinks so you'd think they would act differently. If a person has a child do they not want the best possible world for that child to live?

My point would be that humanity's chance of survival is growing smaller. Aside from the Sun exploding in 4 Billion years, and aside from a large astroid taking us all out, the main threat is irreversable damage to the food chain. You are right STS that the cycle is life and death - and by the mear act of living you are taking away from something else.

Here comes the problem - looking back through time at the two mass extictions the world has faced. The first one 90% of all life getting wiped out and the second 80% of all life (including the infamous Dinosuars). The cause of this loss of life was not the single act of an astroid (Altough it certainly was the catalyst) but a series of event - the root of which was the gradual (then rapid after the impact) decline of bio-diversity. As more and more species fell out of the food chain more went with them. Until there wasn't anything left.

We are at a time right now whereby more species are going extinct then the first two mass extinctions combined. Granted there is a much higher level of bio-diversity at this time, does this mean the crash will be harder?

All of our choices: buying, flying, driving, procreating, shopping, playing, travelling, worshiping, killing, waring... it all leads to not only the demise of life around the world right now; but perhaps also 99% of all life on earth. Are we the new catalyst?

So what does that mean for us? Stop what we are doing? Put down the shopping bags, toss the car keys aside, stop with the children, and venture not towards our selfish doom?

I don't know. I certainly can't claim to have an answer - I am trying to figure it out for myself. I believe the Buddhists are on the right track, a pure goal of selfless compassion - what can be and feel more right than that? I certainly understand the mind-set "Life is short so do what ever the hell you want". I can see why people would find releaf in that, it's the ideal escape for our unfixable world. It's too bad really.

64. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting tway

I'd be curious to know if where people lived influenced their opinion about air travel.

The airline industry in China is under utilized. Whereas the trains are generally booked solid. The latter is also a heck of a lot cheaper but are also old and pollutes like there's no tomorrow. The airlines mostly fly brand new fuel efficient Boeings and Airbuses.

I was having an interesting conversation with my boss the other day. In London, everyone wants to live in the suburbs and take the train to work because the city is overcrowded and traffic is aweful. Here in Toronto everyone wants to live downtown and drive into work. Suburbanites are of course EVIL !!

As for the original question of whether travelling is selfish. Everything I do is selfish. If I give $5 to a homeless man on the street I'm being selfish to a degree. But I'll recall the first rule of First Aide. Make sure you're safe before you help someone else. There's nothing wrong with being selfish.

Just my $0.02 in a very complicated, but interesting discussion.

65. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4138 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

All this talk of shellfish has got me hungry for lobster and prawns

66. Posted by SeeTheSky (Full Member 558 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

brendan, i couldnt've said it better myself. thats prettymuch exactly how i feel.
i thought about buddhism.. pretty cool, if you ask me. id be a monk. i dunno, i guess i'd have to think about that.

67. Posted by bryangrey (Budding Member 38 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Yes. But for good reasons. Travleling opens up your mind, breaks sterotypes, and prejudices. This makes you a better person and you bring that back with you trying to spread that to others. So if that's selfish, so be it....

68. Posted by ChIqUiTtA (Respected Member 278 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

travelling is only selfish if you do it for the wrong reasons... if you go to a country to truly appreciate it's uniqueness and differences from your own, and come out of your trip a better person, then no, it is not selfish...


69. Posted by finesilver (Full Member 63 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


• adjective
concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure at the expense of consideration for others.

Source: English Oxford Dictionary

Ok, so we know that we can be chiefly concerned with our own 'personal profit or pleasure' but, in my personal experience, most people do take other people into consideration. I think people that travel and wish to learn about other people, their cultures, religions, customs and go about finding these things out with respect are not selfish individuals.

It's not a selfish act to open your mind and look past your own microcosmic lives and acknowledge that the world is bigger. How can it be selfish to seek knowledge and educate ourselves about this world that we share and our more distant neighbours?

I think my main point has to been that people I have met have blown me away with their stories and tales, be them big or small. These people have shared an insight into themselves, their opinions, their countries and that is not a selfish thing. The traveller learns quickly that they don't have all the answers they in fact have all the questions.

So, to conclude, I think even if the traveller sets off with selfish intentions s/he swiftly learns that one has and needs to take other people (also other issues such as environmental/economic/polical/religious etc) into serious consideration or else you won't get very far and also that truly doing so makes you a better person.

Interesting question Niels, thanks for bringing it up!

The End :)

70. Posted by bryangrey (Budding Member 38 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

'intellectually gifted inhabitant' of this planet

Wow that's pretty profound.

(I cross the oceans roughly once a year),

So....this makes you more environmentally responsible then everyone else, therefore it's your moral duty to educate us all?
Well you see I live in a country that's only 230 years old. That's pretty young. I love my country, but ya know if I want to see world history I'm not going to see it here. I have to travel very far away. I just returned from a 5 day trip in Egypt. Not very long. I was in places where the locals did "double takes" when they saw you because they could not believe a Westerner was in the neighborhood. BUT, the people there where more friendly and kind then any body else I know. And that truly changed me, that opened my eyes. People there seemed more true. More wordly then I. And it was forever burned into my mind. That's what travel is about. We all need to do better. Actually I hope crude oil shoots up to $300 a barrel so then the entire world is FORCED to think different about emissions. How great would that be. You go to your local gas station and the cost of a gallon is like $20. Oh yea then you'll see change my friend..