Our goal when we travel is to Leave a Light Footprint and to encourage understanding and respect for the people, communities, cultures and environments we visit.
The following offers some guidelines that reflect our dedication to these important practices which we aspire to adhere to on all GoPhil journeys.
We encourage you to educate yourself before traveling so you understand the basics — religions, customs, regional etiquette and significant historical events. We will provide a hearty list of recommended reading, as well as movies and video links to preview before traveling, but do not limit yourself to these! You will get much more out of your trip if you go into it informed.
Adhere to appropriate dress codes, especially when touring sacred places and monuments. In general, for most of our journeys, avoid clothing above the knee or shirts that are off the shoulder.
A warm smile and knowing some basic greetings in the local language goes a very long way — not to mention it sends the signal that you are a guest in the country you are visiting.
Do not give treats, gifts or money to people begging in the street or to any of the partner NGO programs we visit as it promotes a cycle of dependency. These types of gestures, while well-intentioned, can promote the western ‘savior’ mentality, not to mention that in some countries, begging is an exploitative business.
Whenever you can, support local enterprises, hotels and businesses. Buy local souvenirs from coops and associations that are tied to community-based efforts.
Expect delays, hiccups in travel and in general, a much slower pace. Our Western go-go-go mentality is not shared by the rest of the world, especially in developing countries. Avoid expressing anger or frustration when things don’t go to plan — in some regions, these displays are particularly offensive and do not normally result in a favorable solution to your issue.
Be kind to Mother Earth. Travel with your own water bottle, avoid plastic bags and pack your toiletries in reusable containers.
Always ask before taking photographs of people when you travel – in some cultures, having one’s picture taken can be offensive to one’s religious beliefs or cultural norms. We aim to always Capture Humanity & Celebrate Dignity.
We also encourage you to be in the moment on our journeys — this is an opportunity to connect and learn. We believe in the importance of determining our individual ethical boundaries for what might be appropriate in capturing the beauty and humanity in the countries we are visiting and those we interact with. A good first step is to begin by asking ourselves some basic questions:
- Have I asked permission to take this photo?
- Does the photo I am taking reflect the individual(s) in a time of desperation or strength and beauty?
- Does the photo support human dignity?
- Could I experience this moment of connection without taking this photo?
- How do I plan to use this photo?
In visiting partner NGOs, photos will typically be taken by a GoPhilanthropic guide who will ask permission from the partner organization to distribute to the traveling group afterwards.
*Please note that in some cases you may be limited in using these photos in your social media postings, especially photos involving children.