The concept of giving back while you travel is about leaving a destination in better shape than you found it and, in recent years, its gone from trendy to mainstream. However, you don’t have to dedicate your entire trip to a nonprofit project or shell out big money as part of an overseas volunteer program. Small efforts can have a profound impact on an individual or a community and will make for an all-around more memorable and meaningful travel experience. Here are six ways you can travel with a purpose—enriching not only your life but the lives of others, as well.
Shopping locally keeps the money where it’s most impactful: supporting local communities and individuals. Seek out local artists’ co-ops, farmer’s markets and small businesses and buy handmade goods over mass-produced trinkets like magnets and T-shirts. Craftspeople net more of the profit when you buy at the community level. Additionally, ask locals where they eat to discover some delicious, family-run restaurants and cafes. You’ll not only be positively impacting the owners and economy, but will also get a more authentic taste of the region.
Reduce your carbon footprint by thinking green when you travel. Avoid having one more plastic water bottle being thrown in the trash by bringing a reusable water bottle and refilling it with clean water wherever possible. Help with water conservation by reusing towels and sheets at your hotel. You can also buy carbon credits to offset the cost of your flight! The cost is surprisingly low and and the money goes towards an initiative that will 100% counter the amount of carbon your flight has emitted.
Voluntourism gives visitors the opportunity to leave a tangible mark on the place they visit by working on environmental, education or social projects during their stay. Many organizations offer both long-term and short-term opportunities. Some organizations let you volunteer for free—as they get their funding from outside sources—while others fund their operations by charging a fee (yet often provide food and lodging). Unfortunately, in recent years, scams have sprung up, so do your research before deciding where to give your time.
Utilize the extra space in your suitcase you would usually leave for souvenirs to pack supplies for local communities. There are many goods that are easily accessible in America and other wealthier countries that we take for granted. A box of 100 pencils, for example, may be unavailable or too expensive for people in other countries. Programs like Pack for a Purpose allow you to select a destination and view what they’re in need of. You can even fill out a form and they will curate a specific packing list for your trip.
Give a Microloan
If you can’t donate your time or are limited on funds, microloans are just about the easiest way to help someone out. By donating a relatively small amount money by Western standards, you can change someone’s life immeasurably (and get your money back)! These microloans go toward helping women start businesses, helping children and young adults gain an education, agriculture, livestock and more. Kiva is a great organization as they allow you to lend to local entrepreneurs in over 80 countries.
For many countries around the world, tourism is a key driver of their economy—if not the largest—and things like natural disasters, political issues or fear of terrorism can be detrimental. Oftentimes, overhyped media reports tend to dampen tourism to an entire destination or region—even if only a small fraction of the area is affected. Before you cancel your trip, do some research to get a better idea of the extent of the damage and when the destination will be ready to invite visitors back. Contact us at Blue Sky Luxury Travels for help planning travel for 2020 and beyond!