Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better Individual

travel with a purpose Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better Individual

By Matt Wilson

As a traveler, you have two choices: You can buy an all-inclusive package, never step foot off the resort, and return home with sunburn, a hangover, and an extra 10 pounds. Or you can venture outside your comfort zone, leave a place better than you found it, and return with a refreshing new perspective.

Being a socially responsible traveler doesn’t mean you have to spend two weeks laying bricks instead of daydreaming on the beach. You can relax at your dream destination and still make a positive impact on the local economy and your worldview.

ganges river Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better Individual

Photo by jpereira_net

Go to Learn

If you haven’t experienced a culture personally, it’s easy to write off an entire country as “impoverished” or “politically unstable,” when each place has its own complex history and social structure. Seeing areas’ hardships, customs, and attitudes can inspire you to give back in a variety of ways.

You don’t have to make your vacation an all-out service trip to gain insight and contribute to improving the local economy. Sometimes, just immersing yourself in the culture and staying open to new experiences is enough to achieve a larger benefit.

On our trips, we don’t go to Latin America to “help” we go to learn. If you open your eyes and see how things are different outside your home country, you have a better understanding of how the world works, as well as what projects or social causes you might support.

There are plenty of socially responsible vacations that don’t require you to dig a well or build roads. Costa Rica offers a chance to learn about sustainability in the world’s greenest country, as well as explore a plethora of jungle activities. In Nicaragua, you can catch some waves and see how local micro financing is improving people’s lives. Iceland offers travelers a chance to see the effects of global warming while exploring volcanoes and glaciers.

hawker Bangkok Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better Individual

Photo by avlxyz

Keep It Local

The biggest way to contribute is to spend local. Stay at locally owned hotels; they employ locals and are less likely to pollute the environment than massive, foreign-owned resorts. Eat at local mom-and-pop restaurants instead of chains.

By speaking with community members instead of resort-goers, you’ll get an authentic experience. If you want to hang out with other Americans, stay in the States. Talk to locals to find out about their political opinions and their daily challenges. Ask someone where to get the best ceviche, and invite him along.

Be your own travel agent and scout online before your trip to find the best local places to stay, eat, and experience. When you arrive at your destination, you can maintain a carefree attitude and feel good about how you spend your money. Socially responsible traveling is popular at the moment, and travel platforms like Under30Experiences can do the legwork for you.

yoga travel Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better Individual

The Random Hiccup

Travel for a Greater Purpose

What do you get by making social responsibility a priority on vacation? It might be cliché, but it truly is possible to leave a place better than you found it. Boosting the economy by supporting local businesses is like making an investment in that country. It helps everyone who lives there, and hopefully, it will be a better place when you return.

Traveling to new places and soaking up other cultures makes you a more well-rounded individual. Perspective gained from travel can help make you more socially conscious when you conduct business, and you can bring the lessons you learn abroad back to family and co-workers.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on a mission to be mindful of your decision-making. That will spill over into being socially responsible at whatever latitude you find yourself. If nothing else, the act of travel promotes greater understanding, leading the way toward a better world. Go on vacation. Be a part of it.

  Why Traveling for a Greater Purpose Will Make You a Better IndividualAbout the Writer

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30Media and Adventurer in Residence at Under30Experiences, apply to their members-only travel platform for ambitious young professionals today.

Feature photo by Visions Service Adventures

  • http://www.radicalsabbaticalbook.com Glen Tibaldeo

    Thanks so much for this post, which rings so true! We’ve travelled countries extensively of every socioeconomic and political circumstance and have always had the most fun sitting with the locals and talking about culture. The highlight of our trip to Egypt was our tour guide inviting us to his house for lunch, after which I saved his 4-year-old nephew, who for reasons that escape me to this day, tried to jump off a third floor balcony. There’s magic in friendships on vacation.

  • Bella

    Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments Matt.
    As a backpacker I was always for dumping the guide book and getting on a local bus.
    And I’ve stuck by it for the last 15 years, it’s what led to me moving full time to a small fishing village in Brazil.

    No offence to any traveller here, and I totally respect everybody has their own motives, but at 38 I can confirm that your dreams are not reviewed in your L****y P****t guidebook ;)

  • http://www.chicwanderlust.com Jasmine

    Love this post! There’s so much more to travel than just crossing a place off of a bucket list. Thanks for this :)