Let’s face it – “responsible” isn’t really the word that comes to mind when you think of gallivanting around the world on an epic trip of a lifetime. I can barely adult enough to be responsible for myself. I struggle to remember to feed my cats, let alone actively contribute to the betterment of society – but it’s really not all that scary. Seriously. When it comes to social responsibility while travelling, mindfulness is the new black.
Fear not – it’s actually quite easy to maintain a socially responsible outlook during your travels, even if you’re jumping countries every few days or not quite sure how to start getting involved. Check out our reasons for weaving in a little social responsibility on your next getaway, because trust us, your heart will thank you for it.
1. The experience itself
Feeling like you’re actually contributing in a practical way can sometimes feel overwhelming or be difficult to realise, especially if you’re not signed up to a program or associated with a charity where you’re travelling.
Try and pick trips or methods of travel that cater to social responsibility and place you within the day-to-day life of a country and its culture.
When else can you EVER say you rode across India in a tuk-tuk, biked across South-East Asia with nothing but your gut strength, or filmed and photographed your journey from North to South America along the Panamericana?
2. You’ll see a country for what it really is
And it will be better than the tourist trails.
Live as a local for as long as your expedition lasts, while being able to partake in daily routines and rituals – like serving soup to monks in Thailand. Such a simple act, yet infinitely humbling and rewarding.
Unsurprisingly, your whole preconceived perception of the world will shift dramatically.
3. Help out where you can
It is so fulfilling to give a helping hand, and your experiences will change you forever. The idea of social responsibility is not to flop down on a beach somewhere and start bartering – it’s giving back to these countries you’re visiting.
Choose a charity you identify with, that suits your travel plans or is in the same community as where you are. Orphanages, food programs, schools with specific teaching programs and community betterment initiatives are always on the lookout for a helping hand, even if it’s for a day or two. Just make sure you do your research first and ensure the programs are legitimate.
4. You’ll understand the challenges faced by communities, and tangibly take part in its solution
The locals already know what needs improvement, and that’s why they’re working to fix it.
Any help they can get is greatly appreciated and ripples back into the community long after you’re gone, so know that your small gesture really does have a lasting effect.
It’s also rewarding to know that your help isn’t going astray – the initiatives you’re working with will let you know what needs prioritising in terms of community improvement and what things can take a back seat.
5. Do your research
If you already have a few countries or specific charities (e.g. education programs) that you’re keen to help out, the good old Google doesn’t go astray in connecting you with the right people, organisations and locations. It might lead you to discover a whole world of charities already in place, helping people with day to day life. You may even end up staying twice as long as expected, just so you can take part in each and every one.
Now that’s an adventure.