Ways to give back while you travel

If you’re an outdoor person, last year must have been hard for you. All the precocious lockdowns made us stay in for an entire year without hope in sight of when this will get over. Canceling all the trips that you had planned was not easy and somewhat heartbreaking. However, it forced us to look into the affairs of the world and while a lot of us were keeping safe in the security of our own houses, not all were so lucky. 

Now that travel restrictions are getting off, the trips are again on cards (with cautions) for the travel enthusiasts but wouldn’t it be much more valuable if you could more than travel? Enrich your tour with an experience that will be fulfilling and will stay forever with you. You may think it difficult to go to places and work somewhat contradicting, but your work could make a difference for the better in this world. 

As a travel enthusiast from Texas, Gautam Goyal has been traveling the world but has also been passionate about philanthropy. Here are 7 ways he suggests to try if you want to experience something more valuable;

1. Shop Locally:

It’s a great way to start giving back to the community as well as to support amazing local artisans. Have you ever discovered a market where small, family-run stores displaying beautiful art, pottery, or jewelry that you just can’t find anywhere else? Make sure to buy from them than cheap, factory-made souvenirs. It would be much more special. You can do the same with dining – go to family-run, small restaurants, cafes, or bakeries for food. This supports their heirloom businesses and families. This could be especially important when traveling to any developing or remote region. It not only directly helps the economy there but it also helps you embrace the culture fully and leaves you with a nice memento.

2. Pack for a purpose:

You may choose to travel light but you can pack a bunch of items for donating. While planning your trip, you can look for a cause you want to support, and then you can search for various organizations that take donations for the same. You can pack clothes, food, medicines, stationery, hygiene products, truly the list is endless. You can also bring them the items that you know are scarcely available. For example; you can bring some grocery items with a high shelf-life to any remote island that you’re traveling to.

3. Volunteer at an organization:

The best donation you can give is your time. Any organization would appreciate a volunteer supporting their cause. Many organizations also provide accommodation to the volunteers for a small donation. Voluntourism is an increasing trend and there is a vast array of options to choose from. As Gautam Goyal once supported children & women in Africa, you can narrow it down by selecting a project you’re really passionate about. Think about your bucket list destination and either select from an organization working there or go with your local NGO conducting a short-term program there.

4. Be eco-conscious:

Traveling means you’re going to end up using a lot of things. You should be conscious of your carbon footprint and reduce them while you travel. You can conserve water by reusing your towels and sheets at your hotel. Reduce trash by keeping a reusable water bottle and straws. Many countries around the world are experiencing heavy impacts of climate change.

5. Donate globally:

If you’re not someone to volunteer, then your dollars can sure make a good home at a local organization. But that is not the only way. You can donate in the form of tipping your server or cleaning staff etc. It might not be a lot to you, but it could be survival money for the people you give it to! Although, you should be sensitive about the cultural aspects regarding tipping and charity so do your research. You can also donate items in form of small gifts to the hotel staff or your cab driver.

6. Go off-grid:

This doesn’t mean you have to live with your phone, but you can select places to visit that are not on the tourist map. Remote or less- visited places don’t always turn out to be a gem, but they also help the people living there. Search for towns, villages, and neighborhoods with the help of locals that are not necessarily a tourist attraction. While you’re there, spend some money on getting the best experience that place has to offer. Not only are you doing a good thing, but you’ll also surely find an uncrowded, undiscovered beauty that will make your trip special.

7. Keep traveling:

While it’s the perfect opportunity to see everything that this world has to offer, tourism is also a huge industry in a lot of countries. In many destinations around the world, tourism is a major driver of the local economy —if not the biggest. Mostly, at times of natural disaster, some places see a huge dip in tourism numbers on top of the disaster itself.

Of course, nobody wants to travel to an unsafe disaster zone for a vacation, but do your research first before cancelling. Many times, hyped media coverage might dampen tourism to an entire destination or region—even if only a small fraction of the area was affected.

Traveling is an expense that makes you rich and if you’ve caught a travel bug such as Gautam Goyal, make sure to take inspiration and something good on the way to your next destination. Bon Voyage!

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