The Afar Guide to
Traveling for Good

There are many ways to travel and do good at the same time. You can join a trip that sees you volunteering directly—helping to build houses somewhere that's been hit by a natural disaster, say, or taking homeless dogs to the beach in the Caribbean, or feeding orphan baby cheetahs in Namibia. Or you can travel for good by booking into a hotel or joining an excursion that gives a portion of profits to charity, or by paying admission to a wildlife sanctuary that supports conservation. Regardless of how you do it, and whether it's a spontaneous philanthropic day or a trip devoted entirely to "voluntourism," we promise you'll return home afterwards with a new appreciation for the world.

Travel for a Cause
Whether it's saving homeless dogs, endangered species, or the environment, there is no better feeling than traveling somewhere to specifically help further a cause you are passionate about. Here we explore ways to give back while globetrotting.
Volunteering while on the road—whether you took the trip specifically to do so or are just devoting a few days of a holiday to helping others, be they human or animal—is one of the most rewarding forms of travel. Here we explore options around the world.
Cultural Travel
Another way to travel for good is to experience other cultures and then tell your own social circle about these trips, thus helping eradicate stereotypes while encouraging others to explore deeper and educate themselves through travel.
10 Tips for Traveling with Purpose
While many people do pay to volunteer around the world, traveling with a purpose doesn't have to be about you paying a fee to work for free. There are other ways to travel for good. Here are ten tips to provide some starting insight.
Have clear goals. To make the most of your volunteer experience it's best to choose a passion area and then brainstorm a way to make it part of your travels. If you absolutely love dogs, for example, you might want to pick a destination where you can spend a day or two working with stray pups at a rescue. This will help make the trip all the more meaningful.
Start your search. There are numerous websites that have lists of volunteer abroad opportunities. A few to watch include WWOOF,, and Volunteers for Peace. These sites have options that are either free or inexpensive for travelers.
Do your research. As much as we hate to say it, there are scams out there pertaining to volunteering. At the most benevolent, companies simply don't do what they claim in their mission statements. Occasionally, it's just all out fraud. But one way to help avoid this is to ask around the town where you plan to volunteer and find out which organizations are doing great jobs and how you can get involved.
Combine volunteering with tourism. "Voluntourism," in the classic sense of the word, combines volunteering and tourism into one trip that is usually sponsored by an organization. Projects Abroad has a website with global opportunities in this area.
Pick outfitters that give back. Wherever possible, choose to use companies that give back rather than ones that keep all the profits. There are many institutions that donate a portion of their earnings to a local charity or conservation project. One example? Wai Mauna SUP, a paddleboard tour company in Asheville, N.C., donates $5 from every paddler to RiverLink, a local organization that helps restore the health of the river they paddle.
Bringing gifts. Let's say you know you're going to volunteer at a school in a remote Amazon village for a few days. Try emailing the organization you will be working with to see if there is anything small you can bring—this may be as simple as used clothing, pen and paper, or soccer balls. This is a good way to contribute through small gifts or recycling.
Be open to spontaneity. Even if you like to plan everything out, try to be receptive to whatever life throws at you and to embrace spontaneity when it comes to doing good while traveling. This means being open to talking to locals—it could result in anything, from a valuable cultural education to a morning helping to pump water at the local borehole.
Keep an open mind. It's also important to keep an open mind, as volunteering while traveling, especially in far-flung destinations, will likely introduce you to cultures that may be very different from your own. Rather than judging, listen, embrace, and don't be afraid to share your own world views and experiences too.
Shop with purpose. Be it a tent or a new pack, when shopping for travel gear make the choice to buy from brands that support people or the environment directly. We love Coleman gear, for instance, because they donate thousands of dollars and merchandise each year to introduce at-risk youth to the great outdoors.
Be sensitive to local cultures. Before you start snapping close-up pictures or obviously shooting video in a remote village in the Andes or Northern Vietnam, for example, it is always polite to ask permission first. Believe it or not, there are still parts of the world where selfies aren't currency. Ask first, and you'll save yourself embarrassment and avoid setting a bad example for those following in your footsteps.
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Becca Blond, Traveling for Good Curator

Becca Blond is an award winning freelance travel writer based in Denver, Colorado. She is the author of more than 30 Lonely Planet guides across five continents and contributes content to publications like USA Today, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, AFKTravel, Cadillac Magazine and Jetsetter. She is also a Personal Travel Planner for Jetsetter. When not on the road she lives with her three dogs, Duke, Bobbi and Poppy, who assist with pet friendly hotel reviews. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PlanetBlond or check out her blog at Totally True Adventures in Travel Writing.