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Responsible World Travel

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SOSUA- Dominican Republic- A traveler has few social obligations — few social obligations besides sharing notes of the road ahead with other travelers.

It is my impression that this is how you pay your dues in a world of perpetual motion, this is how you stake your claim to respectability. Nobody cares where you have traveled, what we do care about is if you took your notes. Can you tell me how to get there? Can you tell me where to find a cheap meal when I arrive? A free bed? A referral to a friendly face? A tip on the gear I need? An imparting of the knowledge that I need to know?

Notes of the road ahead

Travels mean little if they are not shared. Sharing your travels don’t mean much more if you don’t tell me how I can follow your path. This is perhaps the social responsibility of the traveler.

If it is your responsibility to draw a map, then it is my responsibility to add to it, improve it, and then pass it along. This is the maxim of travel.

A loser, by broad definition, is perhaps an individual who does not fulfill their responsibilities to their community. A community is perhaps the group of people that you feel responsible to.

What, then, is a traveler’s community?

As a person travels around the world for years on end they invariably find out that they have few social obligations to anyone, few real social responsibilities to pay to the strangers they meet and the people whose lives they pass through. There is often only loose obligations paid back to the home they left many years before — they went AWOL, they abandoned a hive which no longer needs them to function.

A solo traveler can get up and leave anywhere at any time. This is part of the beauty of the lifestyle: you decide your life at all times, you give up social commitment for self commitment, you do not have to compromise, you are free from most social obligations that would otherwise serve to hem you in.

Except for one: you have a commitment to me, you have a commitment to tell me how you got there. And I will share that commitment with you all the same.

I have a small family that I travel with, but we travel as a single unit, and we feel no real obligation to anyone. We are not part of the societies that we pass through, we are merely on the outside looking in, we are inconsequential. If we leave, if we stay, it matters little to anyone.

Like this, it is easy for a traveler to become a lost, it is easy to become hombre incognito. It is easy to become a loser.

To travel in a world where few people can pin you down, where almost every person you meet knows you solely by your outer periphery, where the only people who have knowledge of your history, your personality, or your tendencies are thousands of miles away is to have few parameters placed up around you. And you find that your social expectations drop to nil.

A traveler has little responsibility to anybody, except other travelers.

To stay on track I write travel tips, I answer travel questions, I began an ambitious project called Wiki Vagabond. I try to pay my dues so that I can claim my fill. If everybody raises their ante the pot can only grow.

Share your notes of the road ahead

Upload pages to Wiki Vagabond
Help other travelers in the forum
Microblog in the world travel guides
Submit a travel tip to Vagabond Journey

Take Travel Tips

Read Hobotraveler.com Travel Tips

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Filed under: Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3126 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Zhushan Village, Kinmen, TaiwanMap