The coronavirus pandemic has caused us all to rethink the way we travel, and plan to travel more mindfully, respectfully, and wisely in future. Here are some lessons from the past that we’ll take with us.
“Eat dog soup. It was a “when in Rome” situation, except Rome was Pyongyang, and I’m fine never going there again.” – Tim Neville, travel writer and World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship mentor
“I once ended up in a Tuk-Tuk in Thailand with two friends when the driver insisted on taking us to a ping-pong show. We had no idea what a ping-pong show was (yes, we were young and naïve), but we tipped the driver for delivering us to the door. I don’t know if the women in the show had been trafficked or not, or were there by choice (I don’t judge those there by choice), but something just didn’t feel right as I watched them start to perform. None of them were smiling. They just performed their routine as if they were robots. I felt sad for them and sick to my stomach.” – Emily Willis, Head of Content, World Nomads
“I would never leave all my bags on a train, with less than three minutes to departure, and run back to the retrieve a credit card that I suddenly realized I had dropped at a vending machine. I still can’t believe I did that.” – Richard I’Anson, photographer and World Nomads Travel Photography Scholarship mentor
“I would never again trust someone that I can see I should not trust, no matter how wealthy or known they are, and no matter how many Hawaiian islands I'd get to sail around.” – Kristen, Omventure
“Since joining World Nomads, and hearing amazing traveler stories, I realize how much of a cliché traveler I was, in only visiting the largest cities for a long weekend, following the popular to-dos and eating at the highly rated (tourist) markets. But, in recent trips, I’m proud to say I’ve ventured off the beaten path, which definitely gave me a more realistic impression of that country, and will continue to do so. Also, I now enjoy spending more time on the road, as opposed to in the air, to make those local connections.” – Dianne Damour, Email Marketing Manager, World Nomads
“Just showing up at an indigenous community or village and starting to take pictures. Over the years of making mistakes and storytelling, I've learned the importance of getting the right consent and bringing the subject on board to your project before bringing out the cameras.” – Jigar Ganatra, filmmaker and World Nomads Film Scholarship winner
“In the early days of our travels, we didn't put too much thought into the sustainability side of things. We never actively did anything to harm the environment, cultures, or animals, but we also didn't do any research on responsible travel before we went somewhere. All it takes is a few minutes of online research to find out how to behave in a responsible way and focus on sustainable tourism, and you can make a hugely positive impact on the places you visit.” – Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem, Directors, NOMADasaurus and Van Life Theory
“When I visited Bali Zoo, I walked through all the enclosures – including the tiger cave. As I walked toward the sedated tiger (after paying a few Indonesian rupees to get through), it dawned on me that I’d literally just funded another few hours of sedatives for that poor animal.
“A few years later, I went to Chiang Mai. We'd heard so many good things about the elephant sanctuary – until we went there to see it for ourselves. We witnessed the mahout (elephant trainer) beating the elephant's head with a sharp stick, while we sat – mortified – in the wooden box on its back.
“I'm a huge believer that none of us seek these unethical experiences on purpose – but unfortunately, for as long as we continue to fund these attractions, they'll stick around. Safe to say, any animal tourism is totally off my list.” – Milly Brady, Content Producer, World Nomads
“Going on the cheapest dive boat with heaps of other divers. I would rather spend the time with fewer humans in the water to enjoy the wildlife and environment and support the smaller dive operations. We have seen people in the water nearly drowning, since they weren’t qualified and were put in a dangerous situation, plus seen unexperienced divers standing on coral and harassing fish.” – Ulrike Eulenfeldt, UX Designer, World Nomads
“I wish I had never taken my young children to a dolphin show, where they were “kissed” by dolphins who were trained to leap from the pool and touch the side of their faces. At the time, I had no idea how these beautiful animals are often stolen from their mothers and mistreated in captivity.” – Kate Duthie, Managing Editor, World Nomads
“Over the years, I’ve increasingly become concerned about animal welfare and how this relates to environmental degradation and depletion. There are two things I’ve done that have haunted me 1. Riding on an elephant in Thailand while filming a doc about the early days of internet dating. 2. Eating turtle soup in New Orleans while filming a food story. I’d become vegetarian by that time, but made an exception that night, and I still think about it.” – Brian Rapsey, filmmaker and World Nomads Film Scholarship mentor
“I would never travel without my own reusable shopping bag. Especially in Japan, where everything is wrapped in plastic, then packaged in more plastic, then put in a plastic carry bag.” – Jo Tovia, World Nomads
“I guess I’ll wear a facemask more than I ever would before. I’ve already been a huge advocate of hand cleaning and sanitizer when traveling. I’m applying more of my travel hygiene when I’m at home now.” – Alison Wright, travel photographer
“I love visiting markets – wet markets included – when I travel, but I may reconsider depending on what the health advice from WHO is.” – Isaac Entry, Social & Content Marketing Manager, World Nomads
Explore important religious, cultural and historic places and events without offending the locals.
A bad wildlife experience may not always be easy to spot. As with any aspect of responsible travel, do your research.