How do we Treat the Less Fortunate While Traveling?

less fortunate, travel etiquette

Many destinations classified as cheap have many poor people. Many people who budget travellers engage with are usually poorer than them.

South East Asia for example, is really popular with budget travellers because many places in the region can be explored cheaply. It is easy to stay in the region and explore several countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam among others, on a minuscule budget.

While this is a perk for travellers, there are many poor people in these countries who make their livelihood from tourists. These include the touts, scammers, people selling souvenirs on the streets and in markets, children begging and others. It is indeed a bother to have to keep saying no over and over again.

I notice that some travellers are lashing out at these people and writing really harsh reviews on destinations because of these poor people they meet.

The cost of living in these countries is much lower than where many travellers come from. This is why it is cheap for us to travel or even live as digital nomads in these places. What we as travellers to these countries deem as cheap, is often a living wage for many.

I know it is impossible for us travellers to support everyone selling things and such. We are often fine with paying to enrich those who own the lodgings, restaurants and so on but haggle with the poor person trying to sell some souvenirs. Why do we do this? Often these items are really cheap even with the ‘tourist price’.

I believe the poor should be treated with dignity and respect. I am conscious about taking the time to say no over and over again, look at the people while I am talking to them and don’t brush them off. I know there are some pesky people, but visiting certain places and staying in the cheaper accommodations often means engaging with people hustling. Perhaps my view is different since I am from a developing country.

We prepare many things when we travel to other countries. I believe we should prepare our minds when we go to destinations where we know we will run into many poor people, who will beg, give you the ‘hard sell’ over and over again and so on. I do not expect to travel in developing countries in the same way I travel in developed countries.

I know as soon as I get to the airport in some countries that people will start trying to get me to take their taxis and over inflate the price. I know in certain places I will be swarmed by children begging and will need to secure my possessions. I know when I choose to stay in certain accommodations that I will encounter touts somewhere nearby. I steel myself for all of this and see it as a part of the human condition in these places. I talk to some of the people and try to find out about their lives. I buy what I can to support those who are trying to make an honest living.

The way we as travel bloggers talk about the poor show who we really are. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.


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  1. This is a very balanced perspective. You are correct. At the end of the day we are all people. We all deserve to be treated with dignity regardless of one’s lot in life. Perhaps some persons struggle with the lack of utopia while they are on vacation. I like the way you frame the discussion around managing your expectations when traveling to various countries.

    1. Yes, we need to manage our expectations while travelling to really embrace whatever a new destination throws at us. It is not always easy but worth remembering and practicing.

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