Giving back while you travel has become much more common in recent years, and many travelers have begun to embrace the concept. Travelers are becoming more interested in making a positive difference on the places they visit, and that’s a good thing. That’s why they are becoming more conscious of how they travel, where they go, and why.
Giving back while you travel doesn’t mean you have to devote your entire trip to a nonprofit project or join an overseas volunteer program.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in your community, but small efforts over time can have a profound impact. You could give a few hours of your time to a local school, or donate a few hundred of your accumulated frequent flyer miles to a worthy cause.
You can choose companies like the Conscious Adventurist, which are dedicated to protecting and supporting the planet and its diverse people. When you buy any of these books, rest assured that you’ll have a truly memorable experience, both for you and for the people and places on the receiving end. Here are five ways to give back when you travel.
1. Consider a Voluntourism Vacation
With the growing popularity of volunteer vacations, there are many ways for volunteers to get involved with community development projects around the world. Let’s say you want to launch an eco-friendly business that helps people become more engaged with the natural world around them.
If you’ve got your sights set on one place in particular, it might be time to book a vacation and make it happen. Think about places you’ve always wanted to visit — and places you’d love to visit once and never want to leave.
In order to make sure you’re in a place where you feel valued and have the support you need, your volunteer placement needs to be one that you’re excited to be at. Also, it’s possible to make a big difference when you are not traveling.
DoTopia is a digital platform that helps you easily donate to a charity or nonprofit by just a few touches on your phone. Another good option is Unself, a platform that connects volunteers to social causes, projects, and charities. It gives them a way to track and share their volunteering hours.
Choose companies like Conscious Adventurer that strive to make the planet a better place. Their mission is to provide responsible, ethical travel experiences worldwide. There are lots of beautiful and interesting places to visit, including monasteries in Bhutan, the majestic Mont Blanc region of Europe, and India, which offers tigers and other wildlife.
Conscious Adventurist is a member of Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet and Protect Our Winters. As a conscious consumer, they make sure a portion of every purchase goes towards supporting environmental causes.
2. Donate Unused Airline Miles
You’ve probably collected plenty of frequent flyer miles that are gathering digital dust on your computer or mobile device. With a little planning, you can turn those miles into some amazing trips.
I have donated these to charities many times. Some people donate them to causes like Save the Children, the American Red Cross or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You can also consider donating them to a charity like the Humane Society.
Airways, United, and Southwest, partners with outstanding charities and nonprofit organizations that provide services such as air travel for volunteer disaster relief, veterans programs, and children’s programs.
Donating your miles is a cinch. All you need to do is log in to your frequent flyer account, choose a charity or nonprofit, and donate however many miles you choose (sometimes there’s a minimum), with a few clicks.
3. Pick Your Destination Carefully
You can make a huge difference in your travels by deciding where you’ll go. This means that you have to decide where you’re going to spend your money. Indeed, it’s very important to make an informed decision about where you want to go, and if it supports your own values.
It’s never been more important to travel in an ethical way. See the annual list of the world’s best ethical destinations, compiled by the Berkeley, California-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler.
4. Shop Locally
When you shop locally, it doesn’t just apply to selecting produce at the grocery store. It applies to selecting anything that is for sale as well.
You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to find a great bargain. Shopping locally is a great way to ensure that your purchases will go a long way toward supporting local communities and individuals.
You’re not just going to want to visit this place, you will want to buy all the things you see here, and you’ll probably want to return often.
5. Keep Traveling
Tourism is a major driver of local and regional economies in many destinations around the world. The worst natural disasters are hurricanes, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions. They often occur in tandem and have a two-pronged effect on tourism numbers.
Of course, no one wants to vacation in an unsafe disaster zone, but if that’s where you want to go then I guess there’s not much else you can do. But often times, hyped-up news reports dampen tourism to a destination or region—even if just a small fraction of the area is affected.
Before you cancel your trip, do a little digging to get a better understanding of the scope of the damage and how long it’ll take for the place to get back to normal. You may have to pay a change fee, but it’s worth it if you can save money. It’s also important to secure your travel insurance ahead of time. A relatively small amount of money will cover you for a true crisis, including a medical emergency or a natural disaster.