7 Ways to Give Back While You Travel
Traveling is one of life's biggest privileges. Adventures and experiences of a lifetime are ripe for the picking on all seven continents and people often ask me how they can give back while they travel. Here are some suggestions.
Traveling is one of life's biggest privileges. Adventures and experiences of a lifetime are ripe for the picking on all seven continents. Having just completed my own 2.5 year adventure across five of those continents, people often ask me how they can give back while they travel -- how can they can give a bit to the communities they visit along the way? Here are some suggestions.
There are countless organizations where you can contribute a relatively small amount of money by Western standards and change someone else's life immeasurably. Microloans help entrepreneurs in developing countries start or expand small businesses. Organizations like Kiva allow you to lend to people they profile around the world. Another organization called Investours, presently in Mexico and Tanzania, allows you to take tours of impoverished areas and meet local entrepreneurs who have transformed their lives thanks to microloans. The minimum fee for a tour is their minimum loan offered to an entrepreneur. One hundred percent of every tour's earnings goes toward microloans for the communities you visit on the tour.
2. Travel Differently
Some organizations allow you to travel differently so that the very act of you traveling makes a difference. An organization called Epic Road offers luxury safaris to Africa and Antarctica that leave a positive impact on where you visit. For example, while on your safari in the Serengeti you can go with a team and implant a microchip in an endangered black rhinoceros. You actively take part in wildlife conservation while enabling anti-poaching efforts, allowing the animal and its horn to be tracked in case poachers attack. Epic Road also facilitates the adoption of baby elephants whose mothers have fallen victim to poaching. You can bottle feed a baby elephant while your financial contribution ensures it grows into a strong adult. With Epic Road I paid a visit to The School of St Jude, a school providing a fantastic education to the poorest of the poor in Tanzania. There, I donated soccer balls to the students and had a wonderful discussion about culture and life. Similarly, India's Reality Tours offers tours in places like the infamous Dharavi Slum of Bombay. Eighty percent of their profits are reinvested in the communities they work in, promoting community growth and sustainable tourism.
The opportunities here are too numerous to mention. Many organizations offer long-term and short-term opportunities. Some organizations let you volunteer for free, getting their funding from outside sources. Others fund their operations by charging volunteers a fee (yet often providing food and lodging as well). Some organizations are more impactful than others. Do your homework.