Is travelling selfish?

Travel Forums General Talk Is travelling selfish?

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71. Posted by rach8645 (Inactive 62 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


You cant be serious. How on earth (excuse the pun) can getting the know more cultures and yourself better be selfish? Surely people who do travel become better people for it! More open to change and better in relationships.

Wash your mouth out!

72. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hey everyone, check out this:

Some advice...


73. Posted by bentivogli (Respected Member 2398 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I'm happy to see how many people take the time to post a reply; hope that this thread remains on top for some more time. Maybe two words of clarification from my side:

1. What's people's problem with irony? 'intellectually gifted inhabitant' etc. reads 'thinking human being'. I sincerely hope that at least 90% of the other members belongs in the same category.

2. Re my own 'crossing the oceans'; I have stressed at several occasions that I too fly more than I ought to. There's a few tiny differences between 'my' flying, and the kind of flying that I lecture people about, however. First, I NEVER fly within a single continent, and second, I try to minimise my intercontinental flights by combining travel obligations due to work with holidays.

What I lecture people about is not the fact that they fly per se, but the complete lack of thought they give to it. I haven't been counting, but I guess that in about 80% of the flying advice that is being given on the forums, road transportation is a feasible alternative.

Now, let's get on with the discussion :-)

Niels (Amsterdam)

[ Edit: Edited at Jun 16, 2006 12:39 AM by bentivogli ]

74. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi Niels,

I see what you're getting at, but I also understand why people are a bit annoyed with certain points you've made.

"Intellectually gifted inhabitant" doesn't sound so much ironic as 'suspender snapping', or boasting, as they say in French. Now that you've explained it, though, I understand the point you're trying to make.

But the whole flying thing...It's like a 5-cigarette-a-day smoker telling a pack-a-day smoker that they're ruining their health and the environment. Either way, it's the pot calling the kettle black. Your choices are certainly admirable, but to tell people off for their travel habits while you have similar ones, have to expect it will rub people the wrong way.

How about we go up against people who drive everywhere? I don't drive, so it's an easy target...;)

75. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting tway

How about we go up against people who drive everywhere? I don't drive, so it's an easy target...;)

Yes, yes, lets do that!!! I work for a car sales company and they bug me every day because I want to go by train to work. Most of the people working here live really close by but drive anyway, distances that would take, say 10 minutes, with a bike! My boss and his wife (also working here) even go in seperate cars to work... makes me extremely depressed. What can we do?!?!?


76. Posted by HeedTaken (Budding Member 9 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

This is a thought provoking thread, and I am happy to post a reply to it. First, is travel selfish? That depends on several factors, not the least of which being a) who the traveller is, b) why they are travelling, and c) how they assimilate their experiences into their daily outlook of the world.

Is the traveller a businessman, travelling to a third world country for the express purpose of strongarming local ententies into unbalanced trade deals? Is the traveller a regular tourist with a hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a camera who stays only in hotels and areas which offer the same accomodations they are able to find at home? Is the traveller a young person or student out satisfying an existential case of wanderlust, on a budget, travelling overland and staying in hostels or private homes? Is the traveller a fugative? The potential list of identities and variables is endless.

Secondly, from what perspective are you enquiring? Is it selfish strictly in terms of environmental impact as it relates to each person's reasonable entitlement/share of fossil fuel consumption? Do other mitigating and potentially intangible factors arbitrate the environmental impact?

Thirdly, and most importantly for me, How does the traveller impact other people as a result of his/her travels? What impact do the travellers actions have on a) the people they meet while on the road, and b) the people they interact with when they return home? Is harm done by their having travelled? Are people enriched and bettered by it?

And finally, and perhaps somewhat off point, in response to an interesting and often overlooked component of the US and American travellers (or lack thereof): The United States, like several other places in the world, is a vast and diverse collection of different people, cultures, environmental features and lifestyles. One could in theory confine themselves to an extensive examination of the country and a) never have to board a plane, b) never need a passport or visa, and c) end up a highly exposed and cultured individual without ever venturing overseas. Surely, there are certian charms of international travel, and certain experiences only obtained through it, but in response to the international perception of 'untravelled Americans' I would offer the above as a response.

Insofar as Americans do not see either their own country or any others, the perception of Americans as largely untravelled/naive is justified and is not a phenomenon exclusive to the United States. Insofar as Americans do not travel to other global destinations, the perception of naivete needs further examination and a case by case qualification.

In short, my response is thus: Travel is as selfish or as unselfish as the traveller.

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

Mmmm! I like your post HeedTaken!

78. Posted by sunshine10 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Is travelling selfish? Have a look through this website and you'll find a first-class example that it is not.

Just look at the amount of experiences, stories and information that is shared between fellow travellers around the globe. Through this forum alone, we gain a greater understanding of different cultures and experiences that everybody has gained through travelling.

My conclusion - sharing is caring and travelling, if done appropriately, is not selfish.

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

Well if you live in a country setting your probably going to have to drive to get to work. If you live in a city then public transportation is so readily accesible. Well how about this.. What is the country that is known to be the biggest polluter? Correct me if I'm wrong but I think it's China. Should one not travel there because of this? Should you boycott that country? What about Egypt. I just returned from a week in Cairo. You want to talk about smog infested. I think the term "emissions control" is not in the vocabulary. Every vehicle there pukes black carbon laden waste into the air. After a week in Cairo your throut acutally becomes sore. I kid you not. So my point is airline travel is really our least worry. Global standards on emissions from vehicles should be more the priority, don't ya think?

80. Posted by Peter (Admin 6618 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting bryangrey

What is the country that is known to be the biggest polluter? Correct me if I'm wrong but I think it's China.

Depends what you mean by 'pollution', but the greatest emitter of Carbon Dioxide in the world is the USA.

See the chart here