Hi, there. You look like you could use a story that will make you smile. Not that we can actually see you—that would be creepy. But after 2017’s endlessly depressing news cycle, it’s an assumption we’re comfortable making. Although we did have our fair share of stories chronicling the devastating natural disasters of the year and highlighting the endless struggle TSA puts us through to get to our gates, not everything was grim. In fact, we published a fair amount of feel-good stories, from an interview with a member of Doctors Without Borders to profiling a farm for rescued animals. Here are the 10 our readers loved most.
10. How Travelers Can Celebrate Giving Tuesday
Sure, Giving Tuesday was November 28th (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). Our readers wanted to know where to give so their dollars could go to rebuilding wine country, helping Puerto Rico, and aiding the earthquake victims in Iran. But Giving Tuesday isn’t the only time to donate to these charities. Any time is a good time.
9. How Your Hotel May Be Helping to End Hunger
Hotels can be some of the worst offenders when it comes to food waste. Now, several organizations are coming up with ways to connect hotels with food banks and other groups that help feed the hungry around the world. This story shares how it’s happening—and the unlikely hurdles many of these companies face.
8. If You Need Me, I’ll Be Cuddling Rescued Animals at This Upstate Farm Stay
All you need to know? There’s an animal sanctuary located in a small town in upstate New York. And it’s full of cute animals. And Jon Stewart has something to do with it.
7. This Resort in Mexico Built a School for Its Employees’ Kids
If only every luxury resort did this for its employees. Rosewood Mayakoba, a resort on Mexico’s Maya Riviera, recently helped fund and raise money to open a bilingual school for kids of the resort’s employees. Guests can donate or go volunteer at the school, which is located 15 minutes down the road, during their stay. Add that hotel to your list of places to vacation in 2018.
6. What I Learned Hawking Sweet Potatoes with a Street Vendor in Taiwan
Not only is this a feel-good story, but it’s also fun and beautifully written. A woman spends a day selling sweet potatoes alongside a “Sweet Potato Mama.” There’s much more to this story than laughing along with writer Anna Mindess as she describes shrieking about sweet potatoes on the streets of Taipei.
For those who love to travel, but also have a positive impact on the place in which they’re visiting, Journey is the best place to start. Their trips begin with a service project and end with an immersive travel experience. Interested? You should read on.
4. What You Can Do to Help Wine Country Now—and Later
You probably heard in October about the fires that rocked Napa, Sonoma, and other Northern California counties . . . and you probably haven’t heard much since then. This story is a great refresher on how you can still help this recovering area. (One tip? Drink more NorCal wine!)
3. Dispatch From a Refugee Camp in Greece
AFAR contributing writer David Farley spent a month seeking the human side of the refugee crisis. What he found was both heartbreaking and heartening. This should be required reading for everyone.
2. Coolest Travel Jobs: What It’s Like to Work for Doctors Without Borders
Try to read this profile of Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, and not get inspired to do some good. Among other things, Dr. Spencer did aid work in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and actually got Ebola in the process—and then returned to continue his work after he recovered. It doesn’t get much more dedicated than that.
1. These Are 5 of the World’s Most Peaceful Places to Visit
It’s obvious why this piece was the most-read feel-good story of 2017—it combines our readers’ desire to travel with their desire for peace. Some of the safest places to travel also happen to be some of the most beautiful, too.
>>Next: Our Readers’ Favorite Air Travel Stories of 2017