There is a way of traveling that is different from the usual agenda of sightseeing tours, selfies, and consulting TripAdvisor for a “top ten list” of things to do in the specific area you are visiting. All of these activities are very fun and make great trips, however, have you ever thought about how you can create something positive for other people when you travel? Kind of like giving back to the host community or “paying it forward”?
There are certainly numerous ways in which you can still do all the sightseeing and picturing taking while creating a positive impact in the city or country that you are in. Some of them involve money and some of them involve time.
Here are just a couple:
Microloans: Connect with people through lending to alleviate poverty. Microloans help and influence people in developing countries to start their own entrepreneurial endeavors and businesses. You don’t need to donate hundreds of dollars, even an amount of $25 will be sufficient to help someone form and start a business. Either find a nonprofit in the country that you are visiting that works with microfinance institutions, or research a site like www.kiva.org, that provides loans to people without access to traditional banking systems.
Volunteer: It is often said that to really know a culture and a country, you must immerse yourself with people from that place. Whether it be Parisians in Paris or Native tribes to the Amazon, you will really get a taste of what life is like from their perspective. One of the best ways to experience this is through volunteering. You can choose if you would like to see life through the life of a child/student, an elderly person with years of experience living in that city or any other resident. Some examples of volunteering include: visiting an educational school for street children and teaching them some words in English or teaching them math or soccer. Or visiting a nursing home filled with elderly people that would welcome the chance of chatting with you and sharing stories. You may even find some invaluable advice that you would never find in a travel book or website.
Your trip will be much more rewarding and enriching by sharing your time with others. Five years from now you will recall vividly and fondly the afternoon you spent with street children in Tanzania then where you ate on evening.