10 years ago when I started traveling to do good, volunteering was at the center of every travel to do good experience. Many trips later, I realized that the concept of traveling to do good was so much more than the single act of volunteering. It is more about traveling with an open heart and an open mind. This type of travel requires mutual understanding and respect and a willingness to connect with others who are different without judgement. Traveling to do good has various layers, with each layer offering a different meaning, purpose and gift. We hope our travel tips will help you uncover new ways to travel better and new ways to travel to do good.
Many Paths Along The Journey
Some of the terms I use to describe this form of include; community tourism, volunteer travel, voluntourism, impact travel, mindful travel, experiential travel, service learning and cultural immersion. Bottom line, its really about being intentional and/or mindful in terms of how you interact and engage with the destination and its people. Basically practice the golden rule. Do no harm when you travel.
Travel Tips To Traveling Better.
1. Be a More Culturally Competent Traveler
Do your homework in advance of your trip, Researching the local history, customs and people of a destination gives you a foundation from which to travel . Taking a little extra time to have an awareness and understanding will help you to get more out of the experience and shows a level of caring. People so appreciate that.
2. Shop and Eat local
For many destinations, tourism is a big economic driver and contributer to the GDP. Supporting local vendors, businesses and small enterprises is an important part of the travel to do good experience. And most importantly it puts money back into the local economy.
3. Stay at locally owned accommodations
It makes the experience so much more authentic when you can stay at a locally owned accommodations. You get a better sense of the culture through building design, color and decor. And once again putting money back into the economy is a great thing. And if it is not a locally owned hotel, how is that property engaged in the community, through their community outreach and community social responsibility initiatives..
4. Be Respectful of the local people, their customs and cultures.
Put your ego to the side and resist being “that” tourist. Do your homework before you arrive as it relates to local culture including dress, language and religion. Always, always ask permission before taking pictures.
5. Be a mindful of the environment.
Choose activities that minimize the carbon footprint like hiking, walking, biking, etc. Treat the country you are visiting as it were your home country. Do a little research and select eco friendly hotels that have that have sustainability initiatives like rainwater harvesting, solar power etc, that impact the environment in a positive way.
6. Be a good listener.
The people to people experiences, including conversations and storytelling can be so rich and profound. For me the people make a destination unique and interesting. Practice deep listening. Shared conversation and dialogue can provide a whole new insight into a destination and another way of life.
7. Share your talent or skill
Volunteering is a transformational act of service that benefits both the volunteer and the host organization. It provides the opportunity for shared learning experiences and deep connections with the people you volunteer with and serve.
8. Participate in local experiences.
Take a cooking class or dance class. Visit a destination during festivals and heritage events. Have fun and learn about the culture through participation and doing through total immersion.