Why I am NOT Boycotting Travel to States With Heartbeat Abortion Laws

And it has nothing to do with my beliefs about abortion.

As a travel writer, I have been hearing chatter lately about boycotts of states that are passing sweeping new abortion laws, much the way the film industry is talking of boycotting Georgia in opposition to the changes in its laws. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, both about the laws and about avoiding the states that pass them, but I will continue to support tourism in these states.

These laws have the potential to further divide us, stirring the already boiling pot of anger and hatred. It is only by continuing direct interaction with the people who live in these states — regardless of which side of the issue they, or we, align with, that we can prevent the disassociation that warps our vision of one another.

Also, Boycotts Are Futile

Boycotts are a lame attempt by the powerless to weaken the powerful, rarely with lasting results. They’re like shooting paintballs at a tornado to defend your house from the storm — you’ll probably end up with orange paint on your face and still lose your house.

The likely result of a travel boycott is lost wages at the lowest pay levels. In the tourism industry, many of those jobs are held by women. Think waitstaff, housekeepers and line cooks. Think desk clerks and tour guides and ticket sellers. Think rideshare drivers, rental car and airline counter staff and gift shop, clerks.

Rather than deserting women in these states, we, as travelers, could instead choose to empower them through our continued support of the industry they work in. We can also support them one smile, one attagirl, one nod of confidence at a time.

Travel Changes Us

I stand firm in my belief that travel enlightens us — all of us — both the visitor and the visited.

Our own minds broaden with each new footfall of the journey, as we leave change in our wake. Our actions, the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, and most importantly, the money we spend, alters the people we encounter along the way. Sometimes the change is minuscule; other times it is magnificent.

That in no way implies that I advocate travel with a goal of changing a place or its inhabitants. I am simply stating that such change happens organically with every interaction, every dollar spent. The camping adage “leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but pictures” is delusive for most forms of travel.

Travel Breaks Down Barriers

There is no doubt that we humans are a diverse lot, and like good in-laws, we are often better friends as occasional visitors than as roomies.

Humanity thrives because of our differences, but it is through our similarities that we find compassion for one another. Travel weaves us together with the thread of commonality, helping us find those similarities and compassion.

It is far too simplistic to say we need to walk a mile in the shoes of our neighbors to gain a better understanding of them. Instead, how about walking a mile in your own shoes through their neighborhoods, then joining them for a cup of coffee at the corner café? Shop with them. Learn their history in local museums. Engage. Connect. Change and be changed.

I recently wrote about a visit to Montgomery. You can read about that visit here and here. I blog about #TravelTruth at FirstRead.Me