How to turn your vacation into an impact travel journey

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Traveling is inexorably related to wellness; most people travel with the sole purpose of relaxing, taking a break, doing some sightseeing, eating and sleeping late. It can surely be that…but it can also be so much more. In an increasingly socially and environmentally conscious world, the days of self-indulgent, meaningless, empty travel are long gone. For some individuals, traveling has morphed into an immersive experience aimed at creating an enduring and long-lasting social impact in the places they visit. Here some ideas to help turn your wellness vacation into a more meaningful and fulfilling impact travel experience.

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Enroll in an overseas volunteering program

Nowadays, travelers are seeking more ecologically relevant ways to help the environment and make intelligent decisions to help our planet to recover. A meaningful way of contributing to earth’s wellbeing is to connect and actively engage with the indigenous communities of the places we visit when we travel. From this premise, and the need to bond with like-minded travelers and create united fronts, the world has witnessed the birth of several companies whose sole purpose is to provide safe and high-quality travel experiences aimed at actively engaging with local populations. GoOverseas, a California based volunteering, and the co-traveling company offer mission-based travel experiences centered on the premise of tourism with social impact. Their long and short term culturally immersive programs offer the opportunity to actively engage with locals and do volunteer work while traveling abroad.

Megan
Stark, who volunteered with the Ubuntu Building Project says: “I worked at an orphanage, so our daily routine at the township started off with breaking down tasks among the group to rebuild the school fence, the playground, and most importantly the building itself. We were able to spend time with the kids during their lunch breaks and reveled in learning their songs and games.”

You can also look into these other companies who have amazing volunteering programs: Elevate Destinations, International Volunteer and Visit.

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Volunteering is probably the most fulfilling and most sought out form of impact travel. It is a win-win, the ultimate two-way street when it comes to having an impact in the world. People who volunteer get to collect more passport stamps, see new places and experience the ultimate sense of accomplishment all while having an impact on local communities, nature, families or animals in need. It truly is a meaningful way of changing the world.

Hire a culturally immersive tour operator

When traveling abroad, and especially in large cities, people often seek out a local guide or tour operator to maximize the scope of their experience and get the most out of their time abroad. For the eco-friendly traveler, however, tour buses, crowded groups, and lunches at Mc Donald’s aren’t the ideal travel experience. Luckily, companies like Urban Adventures offer the possibility of sustainable guided touring that goes beyond visiting the typical touristic sites and by-the-book history lessons. They have unique schedules and activities that take a detour from conventional touring without sacrificing any of the culturally immersive experiences the impact traveler is always craving. Urban Adventure’s tours are designed and run by local experts who are in constant contact with the local communities in order to understand their needs and most pressing issues, thus creating a bridge between the traveler and the natives. They offer the chance to do some volunteering and encourage donations, both of time and money. They work directly with local entrepreneurs and small businesses by creating itineraries centered in stimulating the local economy which provides an overall fulfilling experience for both traveler and native.

Seek out socially immersive accommodation 

What your daily activities are and where you choose to go on your travels is fundamental to creating a long-lasting impact in local communities, but where you stay is just as important, if not more. Your home away from home needs to mirror the meaningful experience of the journey of the impact traveler. Through eco-friendly initiatives and the creation of a sustainable environment in and around their facilities, Hamanasi Resort in Belize is the perfect hotel to add to a well-rounded impact journey. Besides just being a place to rest your head at the end of the day, Hamanasi Resort creates a fully immersive experience for their guests by being in touch with local communities and businesses, hiring locally, stimulating students through internship programs, and promoting employee wellness through the Belize Family Life Association. They also have educational initiatives for its guests such as the Weekly Green Hour, centered on sustainability, and The Hopkins Eco-Club program for children. Places like the Hamanasi Resort are paramount for the journey of the eco-friendly traveler because they add to the already meaningful impact of his or her travels and reinvest time, knowledge and money back into the community.

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You
can also check out Embera Collection for other eco-friendly hotels and resorts with amazing impact travel possibilities.

Help through education

By now, the impact traveler is savvy in the practical, palpable ways of sustainable travel, but the best way to actually get ready for an impact trip is to educate ourselves beforehand. Knowledge is power and through learning and training ourselves, we can make an even bigger difference while getting the most out of our journey.

Impact Travel Alliance is a non-profit organization whose main purpose is to educate and guide travelers in all matters pertaining to impactful and eco-friendly traveling. They host engaging events, seminars, and conferences in any of their local chapters across the globe aimed at encouraging, teaching, and assisting travelers in their quests to seek a more fulfilling, meaningful impact travel experience. From how to book sustainable flights and spend money mindfully to where to volunteer and engage with local communities, Impact Travel Alliance thrives to help travelers successfully incorporate sustainability into their journeys.

Education also raises awareness and globalizes problems within vulnerable communities and minorities that otherwise would be looked over. This way, people have a better understanding of why and how they can help, whether it’s from home or hopefully take action during their travels.

Traveling is rarely an isolated experience. The conscious traveler returns home changed, with an expanded view of the world and the scope of its problems. He or she leaves with so much more than souvenirs and pictures and leaves behind a long-lasting footprint that withstands the test of time. The conscious traveler goes home with the empowering knowledge of the difference we can make by caring and empathizing with others in need.

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