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Is Your Holiday Harmful?

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Well, no holiday is ‘Evil’, in fact most holidays are full of fun, sun with some incredible sites and possibly some amazing wildlife. However, these amazing feats of nature or once in a lifetime experiences from the most alien like environment to the most exotic animal, may not be what it seems. My goal for this post is to highlight some of the key ways your holiday may not be what it seems and how you may be causing more harm by contributing or participating in certain activities or adventures. Before I start, I want to clarify please do not see this, as a post stating that you should not go on holiday or cancel your current trip but to consider these factors in the future. Additionally, I believe you should go on holiday and see as much of the world as you can and gain an insight to other cultures and new experiences. By seeing more of the world, it broadens your knowledge but also awareness of our effects on the world and wildlife by highlighting these issues, so you can start doing something about it.

Beautiful poolside picture with benches, palm trees and crisp blue sea.
Beautiful Pool & Crystal Sea


Typing on Macbook/laptop.
Computer Typing

Now, I know it is hard to restrain yourself from potential once in a lifetime experience, especially thanks to social media and the possibility of obtaining an amazing picture that will make all your friends jealous. However, before you do please try to ‘stop and think’, even if everyone around you is doing it and it all looks okay, this is rarely the case. Importantly, you should consider that just because you cannot see any harm that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. This is primarily seen in animals that look fine physically but can be sedated, have been tortured to behave in a certain way or have psychological affects from the abuse they have suffered. To help you with this I have highlight some of the things you may want to look out for, before you book your next trip away or an extra excursion. Here is how your holiday or holiday activities may be affecting the culture, environment & wildlife you visits:

The locals:

Seeing another culture is fascinating and it can in turn help those in that culture. This can especially be beneficial for people in Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC), where tourism is a huge source of income for them. Having said this there are those who will take advantage of them. You want to be careful when giving money to the organisation of a trip, as you want to ensure that the money goes to the locals and not in their back pocket. Additionally, remember these are people too, who are often very proud and belittling them as some helpless individual can be an insult and undermining to them, so treat them with respect. Having said all this, learning new culture is an amazing experience you should enter with an open mind and to help that culture is another great feeling.

Lower half of woman in frilly dress, heels and dancing.
Frilly Dress & Dancing

Riding Animals:

Now, you may have the opportunity to ride an animal or you may be going on an adventure, where an animal will carry your baggage. Well both are bad and you should not support either. Usually, this is seen with donkeys, elephants and camels but can be other species too. Although you may think that this does not have a huge effect on them, I am here to tell you it does. The animals that have to do these daily tasks of carrying heavy loads often lead to their short lifespan, as well as many health problems and pain during it. Most commonly, the heavy loads they often endure create severe back problems and deformed feet and toes that will often never heal in their lifetime. Additionally, many are worked in horrendous conditions with little water leading to them collapsing and dying. If this was not enough to make you think, these animals will often be ‘trained’ in a cruel and violent way to continue to work in these terrible conditions. This is often seen in elephants, infact to training of elephants is often called "breaking of the spirit". Finally, an often overlooked feature is the psychological effect on the animal from the way they are treated. Whatever you do, please do not ride an animal.

Camels for transport and tourist attraction.
Camels for Transport

The Natural Wildlife:

Dolphin in Crisp Blue Water
Dolphin in Crisp Blue Water

I wouldn’t blame this one on the guides, even though they could do more to stop it but rather the stupidity of people. You may have even seen this on your holiday where you are taken to a beautiful spot like a lagoon to view the amazing sites and swim. However, one person then decided to pick up a starfish and instantly an animal is stressed, harmed or even ends up dead. One striking article that blew up a few years ago was about a baby dolphin passed around on a beach for pictures and was taken out the water for so long it sadly passed away. Remember when you visit these locations that they belong to these animals and we should respect that and leave them be.

The Natural Environment:

Going to amazing picturesque scenic views can be a life time experience but for how long will these scenes stay beautiful? and what affects is tourism having on the location? The more people who visit these sites there is a higher chance of it being ruined. This is often by people climbing over them, picking up natural ‘souvenirs’, and most stupidly just plain old littering. This can even be underwater and the effects of your flippers on the sand bed when scuba diving. I believe everyone should see as much of the world as possible, so although I want to encourage you to see these sites, please do not do the above. All of which can in turn be detrimental to the wildlife and ruin the area for the locals and other who plan to visit it. I encourage anyone to see these beautiful sites around the world but also to be a person who actively tries to preserve them for the environment and ecosystems they are.

Human waste polluting pond/water.
Human Waste Pollution


Cruise ship in crisp blue waters and islands.
Cruise Ship

Cruises can be incredibly harmful to the environment and wildlife in their own right. Here are some key points on how cruises are more harmful than you think. For example, did you know that when a cruise ship is beyond 3 nautical miles of any shore it can legally dump raw sewage straight into the ocean. Also, they are often referred to as floating cities and this is largely because of the amount of air pollution they produced, which contribute to global warming. Another often unheard-of problem is that large cruise ships hit whales and dolphins killing them outright without even realising they have done. These are just a few points on cruise ships and how they are killing the wildlife and coral reefs, so lets try to change it!

Petting the ‘Pet’:

From getting your picture with a parrot or a monkey to cuddling big cats, you really need to ask yourself 'is this right?'. Obviously, it is not, even if it seems like the animal is healthy, calm and in good condition it probably isn’t. Even if it is all that, you need to ask yourself ‘is that the kind of life that this animal should live?’ Additionally, there are often hidden reasons to why these animals may seem okay with being petted and held. This can be through intensive training (maybe with physical punishments), sedation, right up to removing teeth. All of which I am sure you will agree is disgusting. You may see pictures on social media and think it would be a great experience but think of the animal rights before your own goals.

Tiger in combativity with keeper in the cage.
Tiger in Captivity

Buying gifts:

Dried Out Starfish & Ornament
Dried Out Starfish & Ornament

Buying gifts may help to contribute to the local economy, which is something I strongly agree with but sometimes this may be having a negative effect on the environment. Depending on what it is of course. Key things to look out for are coral, dried marine life, rocks from historical sites and similar items, all of which you should not buy. You may think it is not a big deal because it is just a small piece but when millions of these are sold, it does have a large effect.

Now, there is no point in listing all that’s wrong with holidays and the effects on the environment and wildlife, without detailing what you can do to prevent your negative impact. Try to ensure your trip is eco-friendly and if anything is beneficial to the natural habitat and local environment. Not all holidays are ‘evil’ or 'harmful' per se and there are genuine places that rescue animals and protect the environment and you can help by visiting these locations, volunteering and financial donations. However, before you book your next adventure think of the things I have mentioned, take a moment to do some research and look for companies that genuinely want to help the environment and wildlife. A good way to do this is to look for accredited organisations that approve trips or the destinations you plan on visiting. My main goal in this article is to highlight the issues there are in the world of tourism and the unknown negative affects you might be having. Before you book your next holiday or adventure take into consideration the ethical, sustainable and environmental impact and aim to make the right decision.

Man Hiking up Rocky Mountain
Man Hiking up Rocky Mountain

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