About this page

Don’t Be a Dick Travel is my attempt to balance the basic human need to wander with the ethical and moral dilemmas that frequently confront us while we wander. The philosophy behind it is pretty simple: if you can’t be a saint, at least don’t be a dick.

Most of the modern focus of writing about how to travel ethically revolves around the clashes between travel and climate change, and for good reason. That’s easily the biggest issue facing the world today (at least until nuclear weapons come back into vogue), and it deserves the most attention.

But Don’t be a Dick focuses on a lot of other issues, too: dealing with beggars, the ethics of major sporting events, animal cruelty, voluntourism, ecotourism, worker’s rights, philanthropy, all-inclusives, political boycotts, cultural appropriation, slum tourism, airplane etiquette, travel and health, global feminism, and, of course, “tourists” vs. “travelers.”

I’ll also try and cover the news from time to time, when it’s relevant. If you don’t see something covered that you want covered, just let me know. I do a weekly Don’t be a Dick advice column, so I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

About the writer

My name is Matt Hershberger, and I’ve always been interested in two things: the world, and learning how to not be terrible in it. Both of these things end up being a pretty full-time undertaking, but they’re also incredibly interesting, so I’ve learned a bit over the years. I’ve traveled to nearly 40 countries and almost all of the US states, and I’ve worked as a writer, producer, and editor at the independent travel site the Matador Network for over two years. I’ve also received my Master’s in Human Rights from the London School of Economics, and have been a political activist and writer for my entire adult life. You can check out my other work here.

A personal disclaimer

For this blog, it’s worth noting that I’m not a professional ethicist. Ethics and morality frequently dip into the realm of opinion and perspective, and I certainly don’t have access to some greater truth that I’m withholding from you, the reader. I’m marginally qualified, but I’m happy to admit I sometimes make mistakes or don’t fully understand an issue. All I can promise to the reader is that, when I know I’m ignorant, I will admit it and seek input from someone wiser and more informed than myself. Becoming a better traveler (and a better person) is a process which takes time and will undoubtedly involve missteps on my part.

That said, it’s worth noting what my biases are: I’m not a nationalist of any sort, and I think nationalism and patriotism of any sort are both dull and stupid. I’m pro-environment, to the extent where I want to curb climate change and hopefully move our species towards having a healthier relationship with the natural world, but I’m also not a very good environmentalist, in the sense that I still occasionally drive a car, forget to turn off the faucet while brushing my teeth, and eat meat. My politics in general lean pretty strongly towards the left, as I’m pro-LGBTQ, anti-war, anti-racist, and skeptical of capitalism.

The site’s title is basically a crasser, negative expression of the Golden Rule, and it’s what I’ll try to follow when writing.

If you disagree with something I write, I’m happy to hear your argument (as long as you aren’t a dick) and to consider it.