How to Make Your Travels Charitable
When many of us travel, we often think of how many points or miles we can earn with each ticket we purchase. Sometimes, life is all about "me." But you can also make your travels charitable and support worthy causes as well.
With modern day social media you can get the impression that travelling is all about self-love or - from another perspective - selfishness. Where are all the altruistic road trip stories?
If you are looking for an exciting adventure, but want to help the world along the way, here are a few ideas to make your travels more charitable.
One of the easiest ways to help good causes is through a financial donation. Donations are accepted on most charities websites now and so making a contribution from anywhere in the world is easy. Also usually at airports and other popular tourist locations throughout the world there is sometimes the option to donate any left over currency too in collection boxes and donation buckets.
2. Buy Ethically
Before departing on a an oversea trip choose where you shop carefully.
Some shops in the UK and around the world donate money to charity whilstyou can donate Money to charities and you can also drop off old clothes which are sent to developing countries around the world. ASOS have some clothing lines where all profits go towards helping refugees whilst H&M are keen to minimise the fashion industry's environmental footprint so they accept old clothes and textiles and offer a discount on new goods in exchange.
When on the road you could also visit and buy from local charity shops.
3. Register as an Organ Donor
This is often something people don't like to talk about, but registering as an organ donor can help save lives. Carry an organ donor card and make sure your family or friends know about your intentions, and which bits you are happy to give up incase anything happens on your travels.
4. Give Blood
Before departing on a trip you should consider giving blood. Most people between the age of 17 and 65 can give blood, with men able to donate every three months and women every four. This can really help to save peoples lives.
5. Book With an Ethical Travel Company
More and more travel companies now have charitable branches with money raised going towards helping good causes. If you are looking to book a tour we recommend a company like G Adventures who started Planeterra, a charity which connects social enterprises to the tourism marketplace by providing catalyst funding, capacity training, and a market link for small businesses. Money raised from trips goes towards helping local communities around the world.
6. Choose Your Stop Off Points
Rather than planning a trip to see the most amazing landscapes or tourist attractions, why not plot a route based on people’s needs? For example, you could drive between refugee camps, offering your support and donating food as you go. This way, you can combine a holiday with spreading good as you pass across this amazing planet.
7. Do a Charity Challenge
Looking for an incredible experience? Why not join a trip abroad and raise money for charity. There are so many organised trips around the world, for example, cycling London to Paris, swim across the English Channel, climb Kilimanjaro, trek to Machu Picchu, skydive or walk the Great Wall of China. These are just a few of the opportunities available.
You will be able to raise money through donations, help draw attention to a good cause and meet similar likeminded people. There is also the option to plan your own experience and raise sponsorship and donate the profits to a charity of your choice.
When searching for a charity to work or volunteer with, one of the most important parts of the decision-making process is understanding how you will make a difference. There are lots of worthwhile organisations who offer volunteer trips where you can donate your time and skills to help.
Positions are open to skilled and un-skilled participants and there are so many amazing opportunities too, from helping people, volunteering with animals to working on environment initiatives. You can arrange a program in advance or seek out opportunities locally on arrival. Where you go really depends on the destination or organisation which appeals to you.
9. Work in the Developing World
International charities are always looking for skilled professionals to help local organisations around the world and recruit people working in industries like sales, marketing, management, IT, medical/healthcare and more.
Charities do amazing work by setting up bases in remote regions and helping to improve health, living conditions and career prospects and recruit international staff to help.
Medical aid has the power to empower citizens in vulnerable areas of the world so that they can return to everyday life and excel. In Africa some charities offer cataract surgery which is a growing problem in rural areas where people don't have access to hospitals. Cataracts aren’t life-threatening but have a noticeable effect on quality of life and after being treated, individuals are able to return to work and help their family and the local economy more effectively.
Some charities seek to train local people through education.
10. Visit Wildlife Sanctuaries
Many wildlife sanctuaries do not get any governmental funding and a great way to help animals is to visit a wildlife sanctuary. Some offer informative tours and you can either donate or pay a fee to sponsor an animal. There are so many amazing wildlife sanctuaries around the world and you can find some in most countries. If you plan a dream trip to Asia you should definitely consider going to see elephants in Thailand.
11. Raise Awareness
When you travel abroad the chances are you will come across charities doing inspiration work or meet people who have suggestions for good causes. If you feel passionate about the work a particular charity is doing, you can help by raising awareness.
You could start a travel blog and document your trip/highlights, share messages on social media, inform friends and family and make people aware of great charities to help them to get extra funds.
There are many ways to combine a holiday with doing good and, if anything, this adds to the meaningfulness of the experience. You can still have an epic adventure, while helping those in need or raising awareness of an issue.
Do you have any recommendations for ways to help charities when abroad? Let us know in the comments section below.