Less than 100 years ago it would have taken a lifetime for someone to circle the globe. Few people ventured further than a couple miles from where they were born, and even fewer managed to see a neighboring country, much less a neighboring continent. Isolated people developed amazingly diverse cultures and beliefs with their own particular spin on everything from food to fashion.

You could even say that this distance between people did more than just allow this diversity to build…it protected them from each other. Countries or people with the ability to travel long distances were often far more interested in the gold or riches of far away lands than they were in trying the local cuisine when they arrived.

But what about traveling in this day and age?

Fast-forward to the present day, and EVERYTHING has changed! A trip around the world takes less than a few days and the internet allows people to talk to anyone, anywhere at a moments notice. Most people manage to see several countries other than their own and some (such as ourselves) develop quite the addiction to seeing new places and experiencing new cultures.

But what about the protection the distance between people once offered? Has it been completely removed? Are villages that were isolated for thousands of years now doomed to have their culture chipped away a little bit at a time by a constant stream of tourists who feel like popping by? Will they be left with the horrible dilemma of accepting the easy money that comes with tourists or attempting to hide themselves away only to inevitably find the outside world encroaching in on them anyway?

People of the Masai tribe

Well…..yes and no. Yes the ease of travel has done a lot of damage in the recent decades. It is estimated that the world loses an entire language every 14 days due to globalization and the concept of an “uncontacted” civilization is virtually nonexistent. Every day local people leave their traditions behind for work in the “big city” or boil their culture down to its simplest form in order to easily sell it to the tourists.

The word tourist has taken on a negative connotation, meaning a person who does more harm than good. Someone who takes from a culture without offering anything in return because they don’t know any better, or simply don’t care.

But, there is hope that together we can make a difference!

The internet has also helped to spread the concepts of sustainable travel around the world and the cause is being taken up by people everywhere who are educating themselves before they travel. Travelers around the globe are learning about the pain and suffering elephants endure from people riding them and choosing to visit a sanctuary where the elephants can roam free instead. Researching for themselves which travel agencies exploit the local communities and give nothing back and opting for homestays or excursions run by locals.

Children laughing

 Here at Unearth The Voyage we believe in the concept of sustainable travel.

The power of education to turn a tourist into a traveler. A person who cares about the impact that they are having. Who cares about the cultures and people they are visiting and wants the locals to benefit from having people come to see them. We hope to inspire everyone to travel and see as much of the world as they possibly can, but to do so in such a way that they are building up local communities rather than tearing them down.

Join us and our community of travelers here at Unearth The Voyage who are spreading the word about sustainable travel.

Stop being a tourist and start being a traveler!

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Ron Sefcik is the co-founder of Unearth The Voyage.

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