Travel question

(This came via the comments section of a Washington Post article about the 50th anniversary of the Lonely Planet travel guides.)

Q. What are the negative impacts of travel that you’re thinking of? And what are the virtual travel options you like?

— Impacts: There are economic, social, and environmental impacts. Yes, there are positive impacts as well, but overall the negative impacts tend to outweigh the positive. There’s lots of information about this out there. Just now I found this paper that gives a pretty good overview, succinctly:

I also recommend a paper titled “Lovely Hula Hands” by Kay Haunani-Trask.

And here’s an article I found a while back and have meant to share with you. The tourism industry and drug trafficking in Mexico: from the perspective of the Mayan Peoples (Angel Sulub for Debates Indígenas; posted on “… Education also took place in the milpa, which was the space for work, rituals, socialization, and learning. The children and youth were guided by the grandparents in their love for the land, the seeds, and the sense of community. The grandmothers say that misery began when the school imposed by the Mexican State arrived: the teachers taught that the milpa was for ‘poor people’ and that, to get ahead and better oneself, it was necessary to study and find a good job. Today, the ‘good job’ that the system offers the Mayan is typically that of an office job in a large hotel …”

— Virtual travel: Well, there’s the old-fashioned mode of virtual travel: National Geographic magazine and the like. TV shows too.

And nowadays, there are also various online services that allow people to take virtual walking tours of their destination of choice. I have even heard of personal tourguides that will take people on a virtual tour of their village etc.

For those of us who have had ample opportunity to travel as young people, and who are concerned about the negative impacts of travel, should the hot new travel destination be “stay home and get to know our own places more deeply”?

I particularly issue this challenge to my generation, the Boomers. Specifically, those of us who identify as “liberal” and claim to be concerned about the planet, climate change and such.

A familiar refrain is that travel is necessary in order to get to know other people and cultures. But we should be able to develop basic empathy and decency without consumerizing the planet. People have been doing it for millennia: developing sensitivity, decency, and maturity without jetsetting all over the place.

Further exploration:

Googling “virtual travel” reveals a number of sites. Here are just a couple. If you try them, let me know how it goes!

Virtual Vacation: . “Walk around 100+ cities across the globe. Admire the beautiful scenery and street sounds.”

Globotreks: “Can’t travel? Here are 45+ of the best virtual tours around the world.”

• And of course, you can also just Google any place of your choosing and look at various photos and videos that pop up. You can do the same with your map app, selecting the street view.