Have you ever been on holiday in a place or country that is not as well off or as progressive as where you live? Perhaps you’re in a third world country and notice the ubiquitous poverty, lack of proper sanitation, or signs of a powerful and controlling government. It can sometimes feel pretty terrible to witness these things, especially if you yourself come from a safe, relatively progressive country. Perhaps you bring with you immense privilege as well because of your skin tone or background. Even the fact that you’re able to take this holiday outside of your own hometown shows some privilege. But, this is the way of the world and it can’t be helped, right?
Or can it?
While you certainly can’t help everyone, and if you were born with privilege for whatever reason you certainly can’t get rid of it, there are things you can do within your means to make a difference while on holiday. If you’re looking to be a more sustainable traveler, or someone who makes a difference, rather than the typical holiday maker, we’ve got a list of the best holidays with a purpose that you can take this year. Please note that we are not saying you can’t take your fancy holiday staying in luxury lodges or motels with swimming pools! This is simply a list of ways to perhaps make more of a difference if you’re looking to do so, or even combine a bit of luxury with purpose! Let’s dive in.
Holidaying for a cause
Most of us have a cause or something we feel we can rally behind. Whether it be a political party or movement, or a charity campaign that we stand for, these are things that are important to us and we feel strongly about. Many of us might donate our money or go to a local rally if it happens to come near our homes, but why not turn a holiday into a holiday for a cause and go to where the action is?
If your favourite cause is hosting an event or rally, considering hiring a rental car and finding some cheap accommodation to go and join in. Peace walks are an excellent example of this, and depending on the cause, may be hosted all over your country. The amazing thing about holidaying for a cause is that you very likely may make friends that you keep for a lifetime. You’ll hear stories from fellow peace walkers or rally attendees about why they are there, and you’ll share a commonality from the outset.
Similarly to holidaying for a cause, taking a volunteer holiday is a slightly more full-on way to holiday with a purpose. If you haven’t heard of this concept before, essentially it means you traveling somewhere to volunteer for a charity or other not for profit organisation to assist a local area. Along with the physical work you’ll be doing, you may also be fundraising for the charity or organisation before you go, which will help the cause further.
One thing to note with these types of holiday is that you need to make sure you do plenty of research not only into both the trip and the country you’ll be going to, but also into the organisation that you want to volunteer with. Unfortunately there are organisations that don’t have the town or programme’s best interests at heart, and may not be actually helping the area like they claim. It’s also better to find a volunteer programme that works directly with community leaders to provide services that the community actually needs and wants, versus what the volunteer organisation thinks it needs. An example of this is an organisation re-building schools in a disaster zone. While a school sounds like a really important thing to build, it won’t be of any use if there aren’t teachers to teach in it, or roads repaired to get to it. Do your research and ask lots of questions. This article is especially helpful to read more about choosing an organisation, as well as this one.
Think about the last holiday you went on and what you consumed on it. Even if you try and live a reasonably green lifestyle at home, taking these practices abroad on a holiday is difficult! But, there’s things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and produce less waste, even on holiday. For one, always buy locally if you can. Search for restaurants and food stalls that source their ingredients from the local community. Bring your own set of reusable items with you from home, so that you can take leftovers or market foods with you in reusable containers, or get your morning coffee in a reusable cup. Even bringing small items like reusable straws and cutlery will help immensely. Look for sustainable accommodation if possible as well, camping when you can, or using green hotels. You can still have a really comfortable holiday by looking for places like luxury self contained accommodation, or even motor camps that boast solar energy.
For some of us, our faith is of paramount importance in our lives. Why not take a holiday that lets you celebrate your faith and give back? Look for things like Christian Youth Conferences to attend, and build your holiday around that. Your church may also provide volunteer opportunities all over the country, or even abroad.
Another option is to turn your holiday into a bit of a religious journey, by visiting places that are historically significant to your faith. One obvious example of this is the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, called The Hajj. Consider looking into a location that has deep significance for you and your faith, and turn your trip into a way to reconnect and dive deeper into your faith.
We hope we’ve given you plenty of options to think about for a more purposeful holiday this year!