Be a Conscious Traveler


Paola Nagovitch, Deputy Opinions Editor

As you settle back into reality after spring break and patiently await summer vacation, consider how you can be a conscious traveler during your next adventure. Ethical traveling entails being aware of how and where you are spending your money. While cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts are attractive, easy and cheap options, both rely on underlying exploitative mechanisms that can hinder local economies, mistreat workers or pollute the environment. When you start planning your next vacation, make sure you thoroughly research where your money is going, whether it is actually helping local economies that rely on tourism or if it is contributing to the exploitation of workers on cruise ships.

Avoid cruise ships as your first step in becoming a more conscious traveler. As a guest, one experiences luxury and relaxation; however, under the deck, cruise ship workers are forced to function under poor working and living conditions. A study conducted by Celia Mather, a writer whose work focuses on global labor issues, found that cruise ship employees work excessive hours with low wages. Mather described the conditions as reminiscent of slavery with workers living in cramped and warm quarters, sharing low-quality food and laboring under strict management for six to eight months that ensures employees become invisible to guests. Moreover, cruise ships emit as much particulate matter as one million cars every day. These ships generate 15 gallons of hazardous chemical waste per day, produce 210,000 gallons of sewage from guests and crew per week and spill 100 million gallons of petroleum in the oceans every year. Next time you see a deal for a cruise adventure, remember that cruise ships violate labor and environment standards.

Another way to travel consciously is to make sure you support local businesses and economies. All-inclusive packages hurt workers who depend on tourism for survival. All-inclusive resorts overwork and underpay employees because the hotels don’t bring in enough revenue to pay their staff due to the lower prices of these all-inclusive deals. Moreover, all-inclusive vacations negatively affect local economies. Research shows that travelers with all-inclusive deals spend less on local food and drinks. As tourist spending moves to privately-owned resorts, local businesses suffer from the lack of sales. It is crucial to keep the money with the locals who work tirelessly to survive and support the economy. Consider local lodging options instead of all-inclusive hotels.

You can be a conscious traveler and still have fun. Research the 10 most ethical destinations of 2018 for your next vacation. Be aware of environmental protection, human rights and social welfare in the country you are visiting and consider how your vacation will contribute to these factors.


A version of this appeared in the Monday, March 19 print edition. Email Paola Nagovitch at [email protected].