Travel Ethics

We advocate for 5 Travel Ethics

people crossing a bridge on Colorado River in Grand Canyon as part of investigation in Travel Ethics

Travel Ethics means Accessibility. In the study of ethics, Ethicists call something “elitist” if it is inaccessible to many people. If the wealthiest people in society, for example, come up with a rule that one needs at least 1 million dollars to be happy, we call that “elitist” because it means that happiness is not accessible for very many people. The idea is that everyone should have a chance to see how things are in the world. This means that all of our trips are financially inexpensive. Our goal is to allow anyone with a part time job at minimum wage to be able to save enough cash to come on a summer trip (or longer) by saving for a few months.

people sit around a table at nursing home after a group of travellers, demonstrating Travel Ethics, volunteered.

The Young and Wild Expedition 2013 stops at any organization who invites them and helps with whatever is asked, especially when it’s just a request to hang out!

Travel Ethics means Community. Relationship is at the heart of any ethical framework. It is also at the center of business, career, and accomplishment. Any business leader acknowledges the importance of having a robust and diverse network. Community. Friends. So we travel together. We get to know each other through uniquely living and adventuring together. And we have a blast with thousands of others, both in local communities and from around the world.

Community is a two part entity. It works to impact us, each individually, but as a collective whole it impacts other communities. So even as a close community is formed with other participants, it is also a traveling community working and learning how to positively impact other communities along the route. Just like any communal ethic, our aim is to grow and develop others and ourselves in personal and professional aspects of life.

Day Missions Room


Travel Ethics means Learning. A strong ethic acknowledges the developmental aspect of flourishing as a human. Aristotle talked about it in terms of virtue, or the development of excellence in some action or activity. Our trips contain elements for personal and professional knowledge. We teach all types of courses for college credit. But so much of life isn’t learned under strict guidelines, and many people don’t need or don’t want the credits. So we also provide a General Curriculum. It features some of the brightest minds in the world, and it guides our robust intellectual culture. Traveling and Service and meeting new people naturally contribute to learning. We love it! But we feel strongly that it is only with this combination of Travel Ethics that we can learn enough to solve the next generation’s global crises.



Travel Ethics means Service. Service is an important aspect of many ethical frameworks. We find service to be both beneficial for ourselves and for those we engage along the route.

We have three categories of “service projects”:

  1. Volunteer: We strive to have a culture of Service. So we Volunteer to do anything, anywhere, anytime! It’s a large part of why we do this—it’s easily the best way to meet people and build relationships with communities. Stay at someone’s house (offer to do dishes to yard work!), help paint a house, do ecological maintenance, help plan or set up at a local art event or whatever else you hear about or think of yourself!
  2. Internships/Fellowships: These are specific projects or sets of projects that can be paired with a curriculum, either designed by The YP, yourself or a professor/mentor (see form here).
  3. Staff: Those people doing Fellowships (really clever ideas we come up with ourselves, or that you convince us about, that are aimed at making money) or the general YP Staff.
  4. And if you don’t like 1-3, we encourage you to create your own service projects (maybe even in tandem with a curriculum!) in your own places – develop yourself in specific ways this summer!

At its base, our approach to service Travel Ethics starts with the individual. We work to cultivate a personal attitude of service, where we’re always offering to help each other and those we stay with or come into contact. We hope to help individual hosts with anything from chores to minor tasks around the house. On a larger scale, we work to help other communities build homes, do ecological maintenance, clean up after disasters or other substantial projects that provide training or refinement of skills pertinent to your career aspirations. Service makes the people we meet want to engage with us, and it allows us to develop skills we will need to succeed in our personal and professional lives.


Travel Ethics means Human Power. Any ethical framework must take the body seriously. We take its physical health seriously, which, to some extent, involves treating the planet well, too. Human-powered transportation is an excellent solution to both of these worries. It is very healthy for us and the earth! Our trips always seek to emphasize the benefits of becoming physically fit, of eating and exercising well, and the necessity of treating the earth well if we are to continue to live in health. We encourage more kayaking, cycling and hiking and less burning of fossil fuels.

If it is starting to seem like these Travel Ethics run together—they do! We call it The YP Travel Ethic, and it is apparent in all our trips! As we are willing to embrace friends and strangers in community, we are more willing to serve them, and thus are more capable of learning from them. As we serve communities, we begin to learn. As we learn, we are more capable of serving, more capable of developing our skills through the experience of jobs well done. As we work well, quality attracts others and our community grows. These five categories are mutually beneficial in myriad ways, which is why ethical adventure is such a unique solution in preparing us to solve the major world problems unique to this time in history.

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