Vacations are typically used for a time of rest and relaxation. But “voluntourism” has become a new popular trend over the last several years. Voluntourism is when people travel to serve or involve themselves in charity work while on vacation. While this is thoughtful and typically a sincere way to give back while traveling, this mentality can also hurt more than it does help.
Travel.mic recently did a great post called: You Don’t Have to Be a ‘Voluntourist’ to Travel With a Cause. This article touched on examples of people who think they are making a difference and contributing to change when really they are walking away wasting both time and money.
But there’s good news, there are still ways to do good while traveling.
Visit.org has taken the same concerns of the article above and created a method for travelers to help without hurting. They call it “purposeful travel connections.”
“Visit.org is an online marketplace for tours and activities that benefit communities. Visitors add immersive local experiences to their existing travel itineraries. Social organizations raise awareness and revenue for their causes.”
After taking a look at the site, we have narrowed down a few traveling suggestions from each listed category on visit.org.
Help reforest the Amazon in Santa Rita—Iquitos, Peru
Indigenous communities need the support of the rain forest for their social, economic, and environmental development, so by planting trees, visitors are impacting the lives of the Santa Rita community.
Help protect sea turtles at Carate Beach—Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
While walking along Carate Beach, set sea turtles free into the Pacific Ocean. This protects the endangered animal from extinction.
Weave with a women’s cooperative—Muhanga , Rwanda
Help by bringing economic stability to the communities of rural Rwanda by creating artwork alongside local artisans.
Take a walking tour of New Delhi to understand their street life—New Delhi, India
See the inside of shelter homes and their healthcare and education needs. Gain a new understanding through an inside perspective of the city.
Promote sustainable living—Tel Aviv, Israel
Sit across from a local community member over a cup of tea and discuss sustainable and environmentally-friendly living in Tel Aviv. Tour a fully functioning ecological apartment and enjoy a meal grown from the program.
Support integrated urban agriculture—Mexico City, Mexico
Plant and harvest alongside specialists while learning about sustainable agriculture. Pick a fresh meal at the end of the day. Hopefully, you will discover a green thumb you never knew you had!
Take a wheelchair through the city—Athens, Greece
The city of Athens isn’t accessible for people with a mobility impairment. The locals’ opinions of those with this disability must change to one of acceptance. Wheeling your way through the city will increase your awareness and help the locals see the importance of accessibility.
The next time you want to “change the world” start by educating yourself and letting those around the world teach YOU something. We ALL have something to offer.