How Do You Justify Travel During a Recession?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 9th, 2009 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living

climbers_caA few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement in a magazine that read, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” In this recession, I have been doing a lot more thinking about whether my purchases will really enrich my life, how much I really need a thing or experience I pine for, and whether I’m getting the most “bang” for every buck I spend. For instance, will my purchase also be earth-friendly, community-friendly, or serving some cause (such as wildlife preservation)?

With conspicuous consumption now out of vogue — “McMansion” and designer-anything are almost dirty words — should we travelers feel wasteful for taking a luxury cruise or spending a week at a high-end lodge? Would it weigh on our consciences a bit less if we chose instead to load up the car and go to the nearest national or state park for the weekend?

Some point out that a recession is the perfect time to take an expensive and lengthy trip — because there are bargains out there. Many travel companies and tourism service providers are slashing prices to stay afloat in these harsh economic times. And in some remote places where communities may depend almost exclusively on tourist dollars, it can even be argued that you’re doing your part to help end the worldwide recession.

forest_jaStill, there’s that little voice you can’t seem to quiet, saying it’s not only the far-off, atmosphere-rich eco-lodges and foreign economies that need your bucks right now. You could take a volunteer vacation, painting a playground in Guatemala or building a well or solar-powered school in Kenya. But adventuring in your own backyard, such as in nearby conservation preserves, forests or parks, does more than shrink the cost and carbon footprint of your trip. It also supports programs that engender humankind’s respect for nature while it helps ensure that wild places remain protected — including those in your local area, so they’ll be there for you, your children and grandchildren.

As a guide in Argentina once told me, there are beautiful places everywhere in the world, even on your own block. Sometimes we forget that.

chicago_jaPerhaps wondering what kind of trip is appropriate during a recession is the wrong way to think. Whether you trek to the far side of the world or the far side of your county, it seems the important question is how your travels can do good — in good times and bad.

What do you think?

Happy trails,



  1. You don’t need to justify travel to yourself or anyone else. If it makes you feel good, you’re not hurting anyone and you can afford to travel…do so.

    John Thomas | June 10th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. Candy, i love this – and of course the timeliness for us as we launch on the biggest trip ever is right on. Indeed, we will see much good in each day – whether it is appreciating a sunset or gasping in awe at the sight of a Spirit Bear. I can’t wait.

    Mary | June 11th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  3. If you can afford a trip to some remote place , go ! See the wildlife , meet the people , take pictures ,show them you support their efforts to protect the wildlife and the beauty of their country . If you can afford a trip to some-pace remote in this country , go ! If you can afford a day trip to a local park , a zoo , a beach or a wildlife area , do it ! Just get out and enjoy nature no matter what your level of affordablity is . Show the people who are trying to save these areas , you support their efforts . You only live once and the things you see today might not be there tomorrow . John Howard

    John H Gaukel | June 12th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  4. Well, the positive end of taking a staycation is that no one can guilt me for leaving a carbon footprint in my own house.

    Travis John | June 15th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  5. There’s no point bothering to justify what you choose to do with your money and time to anyone, so long as you have the means to do it. If you wait for more prosperous times to fulfill your desires, you’ll find you spent your life waiting.

    Shane | June 15th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  6. I read your posting and I have to respond. Travel for me is an imperative. I agree with the comment that it makes you richer. The most interesting people I’ve met are passionate travelers. They have an appreciation for other peoples and cultures, not just a desire to fill up their passports with exotic stamps. I spent the last penny I had (almost literally) to go to Timbuktu and I don’t regret a cent of it. It was the trip of a lifetime, but so were Iceland, Morocco and Madagascar! The next trip is to Glasgow, Wales, England and Paris and they are almost as rewarding to me as a clandestine trip to Cuba in the 90s. A bientot!

    Marg | June 24th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  7. Absolutely! I just got back from France, and when I returned to my office, I found out that the spouse of one of my co-workers had died while I was away. It makes you realize that any time is the right time to learn, grow, travel, make new adventures. Life is not a sure thing.

    Paula | July 2nd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  8. I think business as usual is the best approach. It seems that recessions are a self-fulfilling prophecy. We keep talking about recession so we act like there is a recession, which then adds to the recession. At the very least if we keep to our travel plans as normal we are also helping out people reliant on tourism.

    James Clark | August 2nd, 2010 | Comment Permalink

Post a Comment

If you want to show your picture with your comment, go get a gravatar!