We have various hypotheses about the possible benefits of these trips - in time we'll try to research and prove them but in the meantime it's my personal belief that travel can have a transformative effect, that it can foster a greater understanding of other cultures and to open our eyes to the possibilities in the world.
Our journey in Peru began on the beach of Máncora. Here we cruised the town in motorcycle taxis, sunbathed on the beach, and enjoyed fresh ceviche. Continuing south by bus, we landed in the Miraflores distric of Lima. This was the perfect place to recharge before heading up into the Andes Mountains.
With the A-level results in and university plans either scrapped or confirmed, the gap year exodus is soon to begin. Many young people will be seeking out character building volunteering projects in third world countries, determined to 'give something back' before years of hard study (and hard partying) take centre stage. But how informed a choice can anyone make about the volunteering trips on offer?
Culture shock is defined as 'the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes', and can be particularly affecting if travel itself is an unfamiliar experience. Yet travel is a means of experiencing new things and meeting new people; it's a way to find yourself as well as a discovery of the unknown.
Responsible travel is having an awareness of the global community in which we live and employing this awareness on a local scale. It is a type of travel that involves an ethos of being culturally aware and environmentally responsible, as well as conscious of the economic factors that we contribute to as travellers.
During the tourist season, Majorca needs to import water transferred by tankers from the mainland to meet demand from its 2 million visitors. The Travel Foundation explains an increase in the occurrence of droughts is now putting added pressure on popular tourist destinations such as the Caribbean islands.
In the last year, country has seen rapid development of its infrastructure (the country now has over 200 hotels), a surge in tourist arrivals and a first visit from Obama; the growth of Myanmar is an upward curve hereon. In the first six months of 2012, international arrivals increased by 30% compared to 2011 (Ministry of Hotels and Tourism).
I don't know about you, but it is so easy when you visit beautiful places to forget about the impact that your trip has on the local community and environment. Responsible travel is about a more authentic holiday experience that enables you to get a little bit more out of your travels, and give a little bit more back to the destination and local people.