Ethical Travel

As authors and publishers of independent travel guidebooks, we understand that travel matters. Travel is perhaps the most valuable means by which we learn about the world and our place in it. But as we continue to discover far corners of remote farming villages, explore high peaks of ancient mountains, and marvel at impressive ruins of lost civilizations, our consideration of the impact we make on the cultures and landscapes we encounter becomes increasingly important.

Moon believes that tourism can be a positive instrument for raising social and environmental awareness and promoting intercultural tolerance and understanding. We support and encourage responsible and sustainable travel.

Ethical Travel Guidelines

Plan ahead and prepare: Arriving with a sense of social, political, and environmental issues in your host country makes your travels more meaningful. Educate yourself about the regions’ geography, customs, manners, and cultures, and remember to respect local traditions and taboos.

Learn the language: Taking the time to learn basic courtesy phrases cultivates goodwill and enhances your knowledge of local culture.

Travel with an open mind: Each society has its own attitudes, traditions, and concepts of time that may be different from yours. Accepting this and adapting to a new culture can make the difference between an enjoyable visit and a frustrating one.

Minimize your environmental impact: Travel and camp on durable surfaces; Dispose of waste properly; Minimize campfire impacts; Respect wildlife; Travel in small, low-impact groups; Always follow designated trails. Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitats. Learn about and support local conservation programs and organizations working to preserve the environment.

Leave what you find: Take only photographs. Leave only footprints. The impact of one person may seem minimal, but the global effect of removing items from their native place can be decimating.

Support the local economy: Be aware of where your money is going by supporting locally owned businesses. To avoid buying products made from endangered plants or animals, see Know Before You Go at for the U.S. Customs list of restricted items.

Bargain fairly: Remember the economic realities of your new currency. When bargaining, do so with respect to the seller and decide on a mutually beneficial price. Doing so contributes to the local economy, while an unfair price may contribute to a region’s poverty.

Respect the privacy and dignity of others: Inquire before photographing people. Avoid giving gifts to children and don’t make promises to local residents that can’t be kept.

Involve communities: Instead of giving money to individuals, learn about community resources and how you can contribute. Tell people in your host community that their village/town/countryside and customs are beautiful. This will encourage them to feel proud of their culture and preserve it for future visitors.

This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information or materials, please visit or call 303.442.8222.

Carbon Offsets

In addition to conscientious planning and traveling practices, many travelers are choosing to purchase carbon offsets as part of a comprehensive responsible travel strategy. We all have an impact on carbon emissions when we travel; it’s unavoidable. This impact is generally referred to as a “footprint.” The idea behind carbon offsets is to calculate your carbon footprint and purchase carbon offsets to help alleviate the short- and long-term impact of your footprint.

Each carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. Offset purchase funds are then used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through funding renewable energy projects such as, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, and solar energy production, and by funding energy efficiency projects, forestry projects, and projects for the destruction of industrial pollutants, agricultural byproducts, and landfill methane.

There’s certainly some debate over whether or not the purchase of carbon offsets will reduce long-term carbon emissions, but supporting the development of renewable energy resources and greater energy efficiency is a positive step toward a greener planet.

To learn more about carbon offsets, check out Carbon Catalog and Clean Air-Cool Planet.

The following international non-profit carbon offset providers are highly regarded for their transparency practices and for the quality and scope of the projects they fund. Each provider listed here is independently audited and reports approximately 80% or more of all offset purchase monies go toward funding projects:

Atmosfair (Germany)
Carbonfund (United States)
Climate Trust (United States)
MyClimate (Switzerland)
Planetair (Canada)
PURE (United Kingdom)
Sustainable Travel International (United States)

Suggested Reading

Mann, Mark. The Good Alternative Travel Guide, 2nd edition. Earthscan Publications: 2002.
McLaren, Deborah. Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel, 2nd edition. Kumarian Press: 2003.
McGivney, Annette. Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette, 2nd edition. Mountaineers Books: 2003.

Earthwatch Institute
Ethical Traveler
Leave No Trace
National Park Service
Nature Conservancy
Sierra Club
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)
Tourism Concern
World Expeditions
World Tourism Organization (WTO)