Social Responsibility

Do we have any social responsibility in choosing which country we visit and spend our money?

Posted by Devon
833 posts

For most destinations, I would say that it is based on the vendors themselves, not the country in general. For example, even in the US - you can shop locally, keep more money at a local level, or shop more in large stores and have your money support a corporation. You can make similar choices in other countries (like not buying the fake Prada purses in Italy). If you feel a sense of social responsibilities, I think you shop smart on a case-by-case basis, not by avoiding a country in general (typically - something like NK might be a different story).

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

I was thinking about the larger picture. Say a country still practiced slavery, or discriminated against a segment of society or was, in your mind, an unjustified war; or is hunting whales, or where does it stop? Still okay for a holiday?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14129 posts

And what are you tolling for this weekend?

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2396 posts

I think people have their individual rights to decide not to patronize certain countries or business as they please. It is more problematic to establish general criteria of "you shouldn't be going there".

Personally, I'd not go to Cuba, North Korea, China, Russia, any Gulf country, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Mauritania, Libya and some other places on leisure visits out of the fact I consider the regimes of those countries pure evil and worth of nothing but collapse and chaos (their governments and public administration, not the people themselves). Even if these places were all safe (and some are, for tourists), I'd still not go.

However, I don't try getting into the nerves of other people on the Internet or in person that schedule trips to these places.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
766 posts

For broader issues (i.e., "unjustified war"), almost everyone would be eliminated, so I guess no, I don't stay out of places for those reasons. Social responsibility is such a subjective term. Something may be so egregious to me, but just fine with someone else. If I were to stay away from a country/region, it would have to be a very specific and personal reason, and then, I would probably keep it private since it would not be universal cause and a personal choice.

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
517 posts

Yes, there are countries that I will not go to as I don't want to help their economy or popularity in the least. There is also one US state. Which ones, I will keep to myself.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


TSR......Travelers for Social Responsibility.

I vote James to be head honcho and chief bottle washer.

happy trails.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Its just something I struggle with from time to time and I was hoping for some insight that might help. We have some wise fklks here. Not out to pick specific countries in the thread.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1813 posts

I do sometimes travel to countries whose governments do things that I think are horrendous. Or where glaring social / ethical issues are ignored by the government. I have sometimes, although not as often as I should, looked for agencies or organizations that strive to make things better in those countries and found a way to help in some small way. Some of these places need exposure to people who have a different viewpoint from them or who have freedoms that haven't even occurred to them. You aren't going to change a place alone but you can at least be a voice for change that might get someone thinking. In my mind, I separate the population and people of a country from their government.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11073 posts

I won't travel to a country where the government tortures puppies.

Posted by Anna
Seattle, WA, United States
761 posts

I heard whale is delicious, and I plan to at least try finding some in Iceland.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5297 posts

After the U.S. invaded Iraq I chose not to travel to or through the United States. After about 7 years I went to New York City for a few days and that was the end of it.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1525 posts

I think the issue takes care of itself somewhat naturally. How many countries that are known to do more than the usual "evil" are countries that a typical tourist would feel safe visiting anyway? If a country is guilty of anything particularly egregious (yes, including the USA), I think it's perfectly reasonable to cross them off your tourism agenda. Just don't expect it to matter to them. There are more places to visit on this Earth than I will ever have time to get to. So I might as well put the countries I admire higher on the list. I would do the same for US states on domestic trips. But I don't do this with any expectation that it will matter to anyone else but me.

Posted by Diane
1400 posts

Politics will not determine which country I will or will not visit. My own personal ethics does determine where, how and with whom I will spend my money.

There is only one country that I refuse to return to, and that is only because I was very badly treated by its officials, to the point of gross disrespect and blatant disregard for my sovereign Canadian passport during a connecting flight transit. I was not seeking entry, nor denied entry, but I was threatened, intimidated and harassed simply because of where I was headed. My Canadian-issued passport, legally a property of my country, was threatened to be confiscated and destroyed by Israeli officials because it was issued specifically for Israel. If Canada, as a country, recognizes the need for the issuance of such a passport for its citizens, and Israel has agreed to accept such a document, then its officials, irregardless of their own politics, must abide by this agreement. I refused to surrender my full passport and had to resort to threathen to call a personal friend at the Canadian Embassy in Jordan, where I was headed, in order to continue to my final destination. I was also subjected to a 3-hour search of my belongings; involving the destruction of what was clearly an expensive dive light and of a paperback, and having literally dozens of Hebrew-language stickers stuck all over and in everything - it took a long time to find them all!

This was back in the days when holding a valid passport from one's country still meant something. The U.S. has since showed the world that a Canadian passport does not, irregardless of International Law, entitle the bearer to return to his/her country of Nationality. We have had too many incidents of Canadian citizens being arbitrarily returned to their country of origin, to suffer torture and imprisonment, simply while transiting through the U.S.. This does not endanger only Canadians who fit a certain racial profile, but also endangers gay friends of African origin.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


just to add.

I think it could be something good, but i think in the end, no one would go anywhere since im sure you can find someone, somewhere, killed/maimed/skinned/tortured/ate/wore something somewhere at sometime that someone didnt like.

People will be people no matter where you go. Same for Governments.

happy trails.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Keith / Ray, I intentionally left a little latitude in the question so we wouldn't harp on a particular country. That would be divisive. There is one country right now that a month ago I would have visited (and have visited in the past) that this month I am not sure I would feel good about myself if I visited. Not even sure if I feel good about myself for the visit a couple of years ago. Then it occurs to me that there is another country that also has some issues that I am not responding to with the same emotions. I am not naïve enough to believe that there is an answer to the conundrum but discussions do provide insight. So I am sitting back and listening and appreciating the input.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

" *Posted by James
04/20/14 09:10 AM
1789 posts

Keith / Ray, I intentionally left a little latitude in the question so we wouldn't harp on a particular country. That would be divisive. There is one country right now that a month ago I would have visited (and have visited in the past) that this month I am not sure I would feel good about myself if I visited. Not even sure if I feel good about myself for the visit a couple of years ago. Then it occurs to me that there is another country that also has some issues that I am not responding to with the same emotions. I am not naïve enough to believe that there is an answer to the conundrum but discussions do provide insight. So I am sitting back and listening and appreciating the input."*

i didnt mention any country in particular either.

with all of the Anti this or that, PETA, no nukes here, save the trees, saves the dogs, dont eat meat, dont buy because of child slave labor.... blah blah blah, what comes to mind is that "you cant please everyone".

like i said, im sure that everyone will have some grip/issue about someplace/someone. In my opinion, no one person(s) or country can come out clean.

all you can do is to follow your own conscience if its that important to you.

happy trails.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4632 posts

I do think that this is legitimate, when taken at the higher level. There are indeed somethings that different cultures do that we object to, and then there are things that can be part of ones ethical being. Sometimes going to those places can be dangerous, but other times its not a factor. Interestingly, we just got word from my company that we are to follow international trade sanctions. We can't sell goods at a trade show even for cash to someone from Iran, Cuba, Sudan, North Korea, or Syria. We've all spent a bit of time talking about this. Here in the US, we're unlikely to run into the situation, but our colleagues in the UK who go to conferences globally, probably will. It's given us all pause for thought.


Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9476 posts

There are a few countries I would not visit as I refuse to contribute any more money to their economy then I have to ( I try avoiding buying anything made there but for one country in particular that is not easy)

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
806 posts

Funny - I am leaving on a trip in the next ten days that includes Russia, and all of a sudden, people are popping out of the woodwork,(here, there) questioning me about my upcoming trip, and why am I still going, and how I shouldn't be travelling there and they wouldn't travel to Russia, ever, under these circumstances. I did consider the "social responsibility" implications when things started going south in February, and I have certainly had my concerns and doubts. At first, I felt like I had to defend myself, but in the last 24 hours, well, I am just starting to get annoyed --- I am just one person taking her 85 year old mother to see the ballet in Russia before she dies. I don't think not going will make one iota of difference, so we are going and I am not going to feel guilty about it. I'm going to buy Matroishka dolls too, maybe more than one set...and if that stimulates the Russian economy, so be it.

Rant is over now.....I feel better.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Elaine, you know I not one of those judging you. I would have judge myself much harder before I could comment on you. I hope you guys have a blast and if you don't, then uncle Vlad will have to answer to me! Be careful and be sure and write and send pictures!!

In March I purchased two sets of the dolls. One set was Russian dictators from Vlad backwards. The other was American presidents from B.O. backwards. My employees pick them up and sort of mix and match the two sets resulting in some pretty profound observations of who is behind the power in the world.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Elaine, Have a great time. Enjoy the Russian ballet and going shopping for dolls. Treasure the memories you will make and have with your Mom. Don't worry about the "politics." You know what is in your heart :)

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1697 posts

Elaine, good for you and enjoy your trip with your mom wherever you go. A year before my beloved father died, we had a fantastic trip together while my mom watched my kids. It is something I will never forget and it has been many years and something I will never forget. Best wishes.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

Elaine, I know this is a delayed trip that you should not feel one bit guilty taking. I hope that you both have a fantastic time. Take care...

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9476 posts

Elaine if my mom was still alive.. I would take her where ever the h*ll she wanted.. even if it was war torn middle east in the middle of an Al Queda training camp.

Go have fun with your mom.. you are lucky you still have her.. we all are not so fortunate.

Posted by Ilja
2732 posts

Elaine, there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about trip to Russia. The situation there and in Ukraine is far from being black and white or good and evil but more similar to the movie Good, Bad and Ugly where nobody is really good and a lot of hypocrisy is going around. Put politics aside, go and enjoy.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
806 posts

Thank you, ALL of you, YOU have no idea how much I appreciate the kind words from each one of you.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5072 posts

You shouldn't feel guilty whatsoever. If I were in your place, I would do the same with the planned trip until the State Dept warns against it.

Posted by Jeff
333 posts

Responsibility to your own values maybe but beyond that...if it's there I want to see it in most cases. If there is a State Dept warning I will likely heed it. Have been on the streets of Kabul and cross country to Bagram (not in a convoy or armed either) in the last few years and I was worried and exhilerated at the same time. There are places I have no great desire to visit and won't feel that my bucket list is incomplete. What would you say if someone said I can't visit America because I feel that they are not up to a personal level of moral responsibility? That is in the end a pretty broad and somewhat unfair attitude to lay on as a travel standard.

Posted by Diana
Michigan, United States
359 posts

Each traveler must search his or her own heart & conscience then decide if that country warrants a visit or not. I personally wouldn't go to quite a few places, which I won't mention since its a personal decision, but again, its up to the individual and not for me to judge. Happy travels!

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
517 posts

I don't think anyone should judge where one wants to travel. We all have our opinions and value structure based on our own individual experiences to come up with our own rules…and these personal rules often change when new experiences/understandings are added. Elaine, go and enjoy. I'm amazed anyone would tell you to cancel your plans or make you feel guilty. Your journey in life is your own. You will have no affect on Putin, whether you go or not. You might have an affect on the lives of the individuals that you come across, and they on you, and that is likely to only be positive. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Enjoy.

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
1462 posts

Elaine, as I and others have pointed out recently, this is exactly what RS preaches, and I agree. By going to Russia, especially right now, you are serving to make the world a little smaller, and promoting understanding and tolerance. I salute you!

Posted by Kristen
620 posts

IYou have to follow your heart. But you can't generalize the will and opinion of the people by the actions of their government. I suppose if you go to and eat at a local restaurant, you are indirectly giving money to < fill in any leader here >. But you are more directly giving money to a local business probably made up of good people. Just because a government promotes a certain opinion/law/etc, it doesn't mean all of the people feel that way. It doesn't even mean the majority of the people feel that way.

For this reason, I would travel anywhere unless safety is a big concern.