Over the years there has been a shift in travel. More and more people want to immerse themselves in other cultures, go to countries where they don’t speak the same language and give back to local communities. I know personally, I use to only go to all-inclusive resorts or destinations that were considered very touristy. And, over the last few decades, that didn’t quite meet my evolving travel desires. When my family and I vacation we have a deep yearning to travel with more meaning. What does that mean exactly? Everyone defines this differently, but I’d like to suggest a few ways travel might become more fulfilling for you.
Consider Your Accommodations
Now, hear me out – I know that many people use travel points to get great deals on hotel rooms. I am a huge proponent of traveling, so whatever it takes to get you to use those hard-earned vacay days! Do it! However, I will suggest that if you are going on a cultural adventure consider your accommodations. Who owns the property? Does it give back locally? While we believe tourism employees many people around the globe, a lot of those dollars stay within the top 1%, most of the time Americans! Find locally owned hotels, hotels with a purpose or cause. Do a little extra digging to find out how they support the local economy and native people.
How Can You Give Back
On a recent visit to Belize, we spent a few days volunteering at a dental clinic! Use your skills and get involved in the local community. I promise it doesn’t feel like work. In fact, you will return re-invigorated with a zest for your everyday life. It implodes with more meaning in which you will infuse in your own workplace – providing a different outlook on many things we take for granted. And, it made those afternoon cocktails by the pool even sweeter!
We are heading to Kenya here soon with our three kids in tow. Our kids found an organization that supports education for the Samburu community. So far we have raised about $11,000 to give to this warrior tribe to build a school, train teachers and buy materials! It is very rewarding and exciting to get family and friends involved in your adventures. And, an even greater gift for our kids to learn how gracious and generous people are! When we visit this community they will understand the impact they had in their desire to give back. Platforms such as Mightycause have made it very easy to connect to non-profits and raise money without fees, that go directly to the organization of your choosing.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of immersing yourself with locals, learning about their culture. Don’t let language barriers deter you from other forms of communication and connection. If you are traveling with your kids, this builds their cognitive and brain health! Shaping them for life. It’s truly incredible! Find women’s collectives all over the globe, local artisans, cultural events and shows. These all give you a deeper appreciation and understanding for the people who live in the communities you are traveling to.
Take Care of our Home
Our home, as in the planet! If you are traveling to a destination where you will be doing a lot of hiking or even camping – pack with the environment in mind. We have other blog posts on this, you can also check out Project Outdoor: Leave No Trace. According to this awesome organization, 9 out of 10 people in the outdoors are uninformed about their impact on our planet. They offer a lot of educational tools to learn how to camp and travel better – especially if you’re visiting over-populated national parks, this land is so precious!
Again, choose hotels that are eco-conscious. I lead a women’s group trips to Guatemala and El Salvador where we had to throw toilet paper in the trash rather than in the toilet. While this might seem a bit gross to us Americans, this is so common around the world. The magic of travel often comes during the uncomfortable. We grow when we stretch ourselves and learn about other cultures and practices! I challenge you to make this the goal of your travel experiences.
Determine What it Means For You
There are so many ways to travel more meaningfully and in return will give you so much more fulfillment. Sure, an all-inclusive can be nice. Although, in my opinion, you miss out on so much amazing food!! That’s just my inner-foodie coming out! Sometimes you travel so remotely that your options are super limited.
Determine what a meaningful experience means for you and your travel buddies. Whether it’s booking a few historical or cultural guided tours to learn more about the city or immersing yourself in a traditional show/performance/activity – raising money or evening spending a few days volunteering. We promise you that you will define travel in a whole new way. Rather than doin’ it for the gram – you will be traveling for a better life. Real life.
Happy meaningful #wildbumming!