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Photos while traveling are great. Yet somewhere along the road, most travelers inevitably turn the camera lens from focusing on the landscape to focusing on themselves.

 

It's fine. No judgment here ... most of the time. Because there are situations when taking selfies is either disrespectful or dangerous.

At memorials honoring the dead.

Memorials honor those who suffered and are places where people—often related to the victims—go to pay their respects. This includes places where people died, such as historic battlefields, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Auschwitz. These locations are for thoughtful reflection—not for looking at one's own reflection. This includes cemeteries.

With locals travelers don't know.

Got to know a local a little and built a bit of a rapport with him? Sure. Snap a selfie. Travelers should not, however, take selfies with locals they haven't met or had an opportunity to form a personal connection with. Those selfies could be construed as mocking them or their way of life.

Around animals.

Unless travelers are far away from the animal and have no chance of coming in contact with it or endangering it in any way—such as at a zoo—selfies with animals are a no-go.

First, animals are animals and the traveler's safety is at risk. Second, the animal's safety is at risk. There are too many stories of tourists wounding or killing an animal in an attempt to take a selfie. Just like people, animals deserve respect.

On the move.

Walking and texting isn't safe. Walking and snapping a selfie definitely isn't safe. It poses a risk not only for the self-ographer but for anyone around them.

On the edge.

Snapping shots of beautiful views is a must for travel. So is paying attention to the edge of a mountain or cliff. Close-to-the-edge selfies are dangerous. It's not just cliffs, either. Balcony railings. Stair railings. Big, open windows. The list goes on.

At holy sites.

Churches, mosques, temples and other sacred spots are often architectural masterpieces and ornately decorated. They can be favorite attractions while traveling and taking a photo is fine if there are no signs prohibiting it. Snapping a selfie, however, crosses a line. Holy sites are often places for prayer and reflection, and it's disrespectful to those who may be trying to use the site to do so.

When something bad is happening.

Citizen journalists are a thing these days—but it comes with a risk. If something dangerous is happening, travelers should put their phones away and seek safety. No selfies after the fact, either. While travelers might be safe, that doesn't mean others haven't been harmed.


Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.

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