If you aren’t gaining the satisfaction from your vacations that you want, or you’re looking for a trip that delivers more, there are ways to travel with a purpose. You might save all year for your vacation but lying by the pool for a couple of weeks or a load of sightseeing trips just doesn’t cut it with regards to what you want to get from your precious time off. Then again, you might be lucky enough to be able to afford multiple trips and there’s opportunity for you to use one or more trips to give back. Here are ways to travel with a purpose.
1. For Small Towners
Cultural and community projects are amongst the many meaningful ways to travel with a purpose. Being involved in projects while you travel allows a level of cultural integration that you just don’t get when holed up on the beach or when hopping from one tourist site to the next. Instead, you will be welcomed like family, embraced by a small local community in a foreign country, and this invites you into the very center of another world. Unlike vacations where you simply travel for pleasure being served your sangria by the pool, YOU will be serving the locals you meet, and contributing in a positive way to their lives and their work.
2. For Farmers
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an organization which has connected volunteers with organic farmers since 1971. Established in England, WWOOF operates in over 100 countries worldwide. The organic farming hosts provide food, accommodation and the techniques to create a sustainable organic lifestyle for onself, while the volunteer, in return, helps on the farm.
Work anywhere from South America to Asia to New Zealand to Ireland, doing anything from planting herbs, picking fruit, milking goats. Wherever you choose to go and whatever you choose to do, you’ll leave with skills, knowledge, and pride. You’ll learn about sustainable agriculture and make a positive contribution to the Earth along the way.
3. For Beach Bums
If you’re a beach bum, this one’s for you. Adopt A Beach Hawaii requires volunteers for its monthly beach cleanups. Don’t you worry – it doesn’t start and end at picking up trash. Adopt A Beach allows you to get more involved in eco-events, improve local beach recycling systems, and collect marine debris data on the island of Oahu. You can participate in beach cleanup either solo or with a group, and you can also raise money for Adopt A Beach or contribute gifts to the community (And if Hawaii 5 0 just happens to be filming nearby, and you just happen to catch a sight of a shirtless (swoon) Alex O'Loughlin ... nuff said)
4. For Activists
China’s Communist government restored its rule over Tibet in 1949, oppressing the freedoms of the Tibetan people. An uprising by the Tibetans in 1959 was ruthlessly crushed and led to the exile of H.H. Dalai Lama. Since 1950, over 1.2 million Tibetans have lost their livelihoods to the environmental and agricultural policies enforced by the Chinese. And over 130,000 Tibetans now live in exile from their land. New Tibetan refugees arrive in neighboring countries every day; thus NGOs have created projects and programs to support the basic education and sustenance of the refugees. These NGOs include Volunteer Tibet, which allows for groups of international volunteers to share their skills and otherwise aid the Tibetan community.
5. For Animal-lovers
From turtle sanctuaries to elephant sanctuaries, from zoos to national parks, volunteers can find animal-loving ways to travel with a purpose. Many beaches around the world offer opportunities to help save the turtles. Leatherbacks, loggerheads, and everything in between – species which are endangered or threatened. Volunteers help monitor and protect these amazing creatures and their habitats. Or if the furry friends are more your type, then get involved with SOS, an organization dedicated to preventing the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans from becoming extinct.
6. For Tree-huggers
Around 93 percent of the Earth’s forests are natural forests, and around 7 percent are planted. You can increase this feeble 7 percent by participating in a cultivation and reforestation project. Statistics show that global deforestation is happening at a rapid rate, due to illegal logging operations. Get involved. Plant a seed. Watch life spring from the soil. And reduce the threat to the Amazon, which is shrinking so rapidly that, by 2030, the region will be reduced to 10% of its present-day square footage.
7. For Teachers
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya is devastating, with approximately 100,000 children and 1.25 million adults infected. Providing education and raising awareness about the virus will help reduce its spread. Increasing home care access and emotionally and psychologically supporting those affected by the syndrome will help those with existing HIV/AIDS. These are the aims of the HIV/AIDS program. So if you are an educator or a counselor, your help is crucial to preventing the spread of this epidemic and to lessening the disease’s stigma so that those who have it will no longer be ostracized.
There is huge personal satisfaction to be gained from traveling with a purpose. And so many other people benefit too! It certainly won’t be a vacation wasted if you can make someone else’s life better and enrich your own too. Would you rather spend 2 weeks by the pool or 2 weeks making a difference?