Mes amis! What a year this has been. A time of change, of reflection, of growth. I've been taking this time to regroup and refocus on what is truly important- family, friends, equity, health, and community.
I've debated if travel even has a place in our world, now. How do we travel safely? How do we ensure social justice in tourism? Is travel a privilege that we can no longer justify?
Can travel be and do more than just enrich our personal lives?
And my conclusion is: Yes. Now, more than ever, YES. Travel helps us to know ourselves and understand our values, our privileges, our fears, our abilities, our hearts. Travel helps us to know each other: to see strangers as friends, to understand and celebrate cultures and people that are different from us. Travel helps us to learn, to grow, to share. Travel helps the global community to connect and to build peace.
Travel is a privilege. The experiences that travel allows is something to be cherished and shared. It is our job as travel planners to ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of our work, and this is something that I think about a lot.
Because I believe that travel is less about going somewhere as it is about becoming a better human, I want to share with you some of the guiding principles for myself and France Du Jour Custom Travel. These are things we do to work for equality and justice in tourism:
-Recognizing racism: We recognize that BIPOC people experience bias, discomfort, and abuse when traveling.
-Acknowledging privilege: We acknowledge that not only is travel itself a privilege, but traveling while white is a privilege. We work to make travel more accessible to all and to combat inequity and racism in all forms.
-Educating ourselves: We are always learning more about how racism impacts people when traveling and how this has a long history steeped in xenophobia and bias. We are reading, listening, discussing and always ready to be corrected and better informed.
-Speaking up: When we see or hear something, we call it out. We will not be silent in the face of racism (or sexism, fascism, ableism, or any other kind of discrimination or hate).
-Choosing vendors: When working with vendors (drivers, hotels, etc), we ensure that they also have and follow anti-racism procedures and policies. We will not put our travelers in situations that could be dangerous or uncomfortable, and we will not promote or engage with companies, organizations, or individuals that do not share these values.
-Representation: We are a travel company of one (me!), but we represent travelers, the United States, France, and many other travel locations. We aim to be inclusive of all of our clients, destinations and partners because we believe that travel should welcome everyone.
-Focusing on improvement: Whether it's within our work or elsewhere, we are committed to learning, improving, and being pro-actively anti-racist. We welcome your ideas, comments, questions, and criticisms.
Thank you for reading. I know that you choose to travel because the planet is beautiful, diverse, and full. Let's hold on to that, share it with others, and work for a more just and equitable world.
*For more information on racism, anti-racism, and travel, please check out these articles and bloggers: