Travel Destinations That Need Your Help – Travel is fun and relaxing, but it can be so much more than that.
Many of the most popular travel destinations around the world suffer from some problem or other: environmental degradation, economic instability, cultural collapse, etc.
Tourists often compound these issues, giving their wealth to foreign investors over local businesses, compounding the waste of resources in a region or supporting practices that misappropriate important cultural aspects or delegitimize native populations.
Fortunately, it’s possible to be a conscientious traveler.
If you want to make a positive difference to the places you visit, here are a few of the most popular tourist destinations and what they need from you.
Travel Destinations That Need Your Help
The islands in the Caribbean are easily among the most beautiful places in the world — but because of their history, they have become some of the least developed nations in the world, too.
While hundreds of millions of travelers enjoy vacations to the Caribbean Sea every year, the people of the Caribbean tend to lack basic necessities, like clean water, modern medicine and reliable housing.
Worse, the Caribbean is often subject to some of the worst natural disasters, most recently Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, which have veritably wrecked already struggling nations like Haiti.
One person won’t have much of an impact in a region where dozens of aid groups and governments are struggling to give the right kind of aid.
Thus, if you want to travel to the Caribbean and have a positive impact, you should ally yourself with some kind of beneficial organization.
Mission trips to the region will allow you to help provide clean water, medical assistance and other crucial services; you can find a mission that aligns with your values and join up today.
On the other side of the world, Australia is certainly a developed nation, but it still suffers from a number of tourist-borne ills.
As with America’s national parks, Australia’s natural wonders are exceedingly endangered due to over-tourism — especially the Great Barrier Reef.
While climate change has certainly wrought havoc on all marine environments, marine tourism to the reef has produced particular negative effects, including pollution of the reef by tourism vessels and altered behavior of marine creatures due to tourist activity.
While tourism certainly is cleaner than other nearby industries — like agriculture — it’s important that when visiting the reef you opt for an environmentally conscious tour.
However, the Great Barrier Reef isn’t the only issue facing Australia.
Unfortunately, since its colonization, Australia has struggled to treat its indigenous people with respect — with the result that even today, travelers misunderstand and belittle the native culture.
By all means, you shouldn’t avoid partaking in Aboriginal tourism, but you should strive to educate yourself on the history and culture of Australia’s indigenous populations.
Then, you will be better equipped to support and appreciate the native sites and ceremonies you see.
If you use a tour guide, choose one that has a reputation for ethical practices, and try to inform your fellow travelers about proper behavior.
National Parks Offer Many Popular Travel Destinations
National Parks around the U.S. are revered for their unparalleled beauty and unique wildlife, making them popular destinations for families, adventure travelers, bucket listers and more.
Unfortunately, tourism to these natural environments often leaves them clogged with trash and marred in other, more permanent ways, as well.
For instance, many disrespectful tourists carve their names in trees or boulders.
Even tourists who strive to avoid such flagrantly bad behavior have lasting negative effects on the parks.
Crowds of visitors can introduce stress to the environment, disturbing animal breeding cycles and altering natural behaviors.
Additionally, travelers’ clothing or food can bring in non-native species, which compete with local wildlife and upset the ecosystem.
The best way to see a natural park without degrading it is to visit on shoulder or off-seasons, when the park isn’t experiencing an overwhelming flood of tourists.
You should also be respectful of the rules of the park, such as staying on designated walking paths or refraining from feeding any wildlife.
For a bigger positive impact, you can enlist in any volunteer program dedicated to cleaning up and conserving the national parks.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to dedicate your trip to voluntourism, you can merely pick up any waste products you find as you explore the park.
Generally, the key to making a positive impact when you travel is to avoid acting like a regular tourist.
By knowing what harm tourism causes to a particular region, you can avoid making the mistakes that millions of other travelers make and thereby avoid worsening any existing problems, at the very least.