When we travel, we can indeed help others. Depending on the destination and the need, there are many ways to do this. Today, I will cover four here.
1. SUPPORT A LOCAL ORGANIZATION THROUGH YOUR RESORT OR LODGE
There are many resorts and lodges that I and many other Travel Advisors deal with who are getting involved with their local neighbors and regions. They help support schools, hospitals, and generally assist with whatever the needs are in that particular area. Many resorts (particularly in the Caribbean) and lodges (in places like Africa) are built near a primarily poverty-stricken area. These resorts and lodges provide training to and hire locals to give them employment that they would not otherwise have, thereby improving their quality of life. They also provide donations to enable and support the local schools. They provide a list of school supplies and other items that guests may bring to donate to the school or other local cause. They also offer opportunities to their guests to visit these schools, volunteer for an afternoon to read to children, or to do whatever needs to be done.
2. WORK WITH SUPPLIERS WHO SUPPORT ANIMAL & ECO PRESERVATION IF FEASIBLE
Many cruise companies and large tour operators are becoming more attentive to needs around the world for both animal and eco preservation. More focus on eliminating plastic, saving our oceans and waterways, and saving animals from extinction are all becoming more important for many suppliers and if you have a choice to deal with one that does vs. one that doesn't, wouldn't it be great to deal with the former? It's certainly worthy of some investigation and awareness to try to make some of the right choices, don't you think?
3. BUY HANDMADE CRAFTS FROM LOCALS
You contribute to the well-being of locals when you purchase the handmade items from them. Every time you buy souvenirs anywhere in the world that are handmade locally you are assisting with their sustenance and ability to survive. In as much as many of them enjoy a certain degree of haggling and negotiating, keep in mind that you're helping them in their efforts to try to live a better life. Try not to get too caught up in always getting the lowest, best possible deal and allow them to make some profit for their sake. In all likelihood, they need the extra money a great deal more than you do. A purchase from them is a business transaction and gives them pride in their work, as well as a few dollars in their pocket.
4. PARTICIPATE IN VOLUNTEER TRAVEL
There is some concern about the negatives of "Voluntourism" - that is volunteer travel, but not all of it is bad. For the most part, it’s travel where you give something back to the local community you are visiting. You learn about another culture by giving your time, skills and knowledge to benefit others. There are many opportunities to do this both closer to home including areas like Haiti and the Dominican Republic and more distant options like Africa in a program such as "Me to We".
We may not have a lot of time to give, but maybe if we each look for some small opportunity, we can all make a difference. The next time you take a vacation, consider asking what you can do to help even if it is just buying those handmade souvenir trinkets from a local source.