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Responsible Travel – How to Travel and Do Good (at the Same Time)

Responsible Travel - How to Travel and Do Good (at the Same Time)

For most travelers, the act of seeing the world is a selfish one. Intentionally or not, when most people visit a new place, they leave it worse-off than it was. Travel produces an incredible amount of physical waste and can have devastating effects on local cultures and economies. While many travelers point to the money flowing into often impoverished regions thanks to foreign tourists, the truth is that travel typically does more harm than good.

If you want to see the word, you can do so without bringing woe onto the places you visit. Here are a few ideas for doing good while you travel, so you can gain new experiences without feeling bad about it.

Responsible Travel – How to Travel and Do Good

Use Your Career Skills

If you have built a career, it’s likely that you can apply your skills in some way to benefit the places you want to travel. Many prime travel destinations lack developed-nation necessities like sufficient medical services, housing and even efficient agriculture and access to clean water. Without a doubt, a professional in any of these areas can do good in developing nations. For example, if you work in medicine — as a doctor, nurse, hospital administrator or anything else — you can find countless ways to travel the world while positively impacting communities you visit; Mercy Ships is a program that delivers much-needed medical services to developing nations around the world. Admittedly, this kind of travel usually requires a relatively long-term commitment, perhaps six months or more, but it also allows you to do substantial good while you see the world.

Even if you have a job in marketing or something seemingly less applicable to developing communities, you might apply for a job with or donate your services to an NGO or non-profit working in the area. Again, it’s possible that you might be required to relocate abroad to function in this capacity, but if you are a committed traveler, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Go on a Mission

While mission trips for adults often have religious motives, they don’t have to. Many religious mission trips provide noteworthy benefits for communities around the world — to include better housing, medical care, food and water access and more — but if you aren’t motivated by religion, you shouldn’t automatically say no to going on a mission.

In truth, a mission is merely a travel-related assignment; you might give yourself a mission to bring clean water to a community in Haiti or help children in Sudan obtain school supplies. A mission is nothing more or less than something to pursue, and if you can competently self-motivate for the sake of helping others around the world, you should consider going on a mission whenever you travel. Here are a few steps to help you plan your own mission trip if other organized missions aren’t appealing:

  • Determine your passion. What cause inspires you? What issue overseas compels you to stand up and make a difference? This might be women’s rights, public health, education, environmental destruction or something else.
  • Recruit troops. It’s almost impossible to perform a mission effectively on your own. You should get friends, coworkers or strangers together to form a corps that will effect change.
  • Select a location. The place you visit should be highly impacted by the cause you choose, but it should also be some place that you want to visit.
  • Fundraise. You need other people (as well as corporate sponsors, ideally) to support your efforts with skills, supplies, accommodations and more.
  • Stay open-minded. You should become familiar with the culture and language of your destination, so you can win over the local community and create change. You should avoid setting your expectations too high; if one person could solve a massive problem like public health or education, they would have done so already. Your impact might seem small, but it will feel large to the lives you touch.

If you can’t go on a mission due to monetary reasons but want to do some good in the world you can always use tools like: https://www.gofundme.com/c/fundraising-ideas/mission-trips to help you raise funds to go on these mission trips.

Be a Conscientious Traveler

Responsible Travel - How to Travel and Do Good (at the Same Time)

Regardless of whether you are traveling with an organization or traveling alone — regardless of whether you have a mission or are simply seeing the world like a typical tourist — you need to remain conscientious. This begins with being grateful and kind to any locals you encounter on your travels and avoiding leaving a location any worse than you found it. However, you can go a step further and support only locally owned businesses (as opposed to international resorts or foreign-owned businesses) and make sure that any services you patronize treat their staff well and use resources sustainably. By behaving mindfully, you can avoid the label of “selfish traveler” and see the world without a heavy conscience.

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