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The best ways to ensure you travel ethically

Positive tourist karma

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Ethical travel is a form of travel/tourism that takes into account the ethics of travel. An ethical tourist would consider the environment, the welfare of the local people and the end point of their tourist dollar (or euro in our case) when they travel. The term was originally coined by Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in 1983, but the concept has really only taken off in recent years.

Overall, the aim of ethical travel is to encourage travel that has at minimum, a neutral effect on the environment. It also encourages travel that enhances the lives of those working in the tourist industry, rather than exploiting poor people for a cheap holiday.

Steps to take to be an ethical traveller

If you are trying to be a more ethical traveller these are some of the things you need to take into consideration before travelling

  • Does the transport you are taking use a lot of carbon miles?
  • How are the local people treated where you are travelling to?
  • How will your money be spent there. Will it go to local people or is it mainly supporting global multinationals?
  • Does the county you are travelling to produce a lot of pollution and have a negative impact on the environment?

Ethical transport modes


You can easily get to the UK with any of the Irish ferry companies, such as Stena Line and Irish Ferries. These companies also offer bus and boat packages, which work out to be way cheaper than flying.


There is an extensive network of trains all over the globe. Whether you fly into a destination or take the boat to get there, you can then use a train to get to your destination in a safe and timely manner. Or, you could even spend months InterRailing around Europe.


Bus Eireann runs fares to all over the UK, in partnership with Euro Lines. Then if you want to go on to Europe, it’s very easy to take a boat or a train from there.

Trams and metros

Many cities throughout the world have trams and metros, and they are cheap and environmentally friendly. Most are also extremely easy to get around too, even if you’re not great at reading maps.


Obviously, you can’t walk from country to country or city to city, but you can use your feet to explore a city itself, rather than taking taxis or using public transport.

Tips for ethical travel

  • Learn about the culture before you travel and respect it while you are there
  • Research the country before you go. Check out
  • Have a think about picking up some basic language skills before you go
  • Be as environmentally friendly as possible
  • Tip well and be polite to the people who are serving you 
  • Be mindful not to exploit the locals

Why care about it?

Having the opportunity to travel is a great experience for most of us in life. It is important to remember that while on holidays in another country those working in your hotels, bars and cafes are not. By thinking about the places you visit and where you spend your money while there you can help to stop exploitation of local workers. By using eco friendly methods of transport you can help to reduce environmental damage.

Remember, if you are not contributing to environmental damage and are spending your tourist euro in a safe and healthy manner, then you can enjoy your travel time without any guilt.

Fore more information, check out our Travel section.

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Published Novem­ber 27th2012
Tags travel wellbeing activism ethics
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