I’ve earlier written about how I feel that those who travel should do so in an informed way. This is still a strong feeling in the way I travel, and I would feel bad if I didn’t at least read the wikipedia page on a country before I left for it.
That being said I would like to make another travel suggestion. Traveling with a purpose. For thousands of years most of our ancestors only traveled for a reason. And the reason wasn’t usually to see a rock turn around and head back. Today the proliferation of travel options: cruises, adventure tours, or packages of all kinds, make it surprisingly easy to travel without a purpose. This leads to a lack of fulfillment from traveling. Going to see things is great, and I am not going to stop you and tell you this is a bad thing to do, because I strongly encourage it. But you must also intersperse your travels with ones that you do with a purpose.
I am not talking about traveling on purpose. If you travel at all, unless trafficked, you are usually doing so intentionally. No I am talking about traveling for a reason, a good reason.
For some it may be spiritual, the Hajj for example is traveling with purpose for thousands of Muslims every year. There are pilgrimages all over the world that almost every religion has to a variety of different places.
But what if you do not want to travel on the purpose of your religion? That is fine.
For those of us in the West there are hundreds (if not thousands) of organizations which will help you travel on purpose.
Some of the big ones I’d like to suggest:
WWOOFing– World Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms. This is a great organization which sets you up with Organic Farms all over the world (some may even be down the street from you). The Farms provide sleeping and food arrangments, as well as the opportunity to learn about Organic Farms
Peace Corps– Sadly only for US citizens, this is a great organization that can allow you to visit a part of the world for a purpose for many years. Working within communities and seeing these places as those who live there see them.
UN Volunteers– For those outside the US and maybe even inside the US you can also use this site. Its a great organization, sometimes described as the UN version of Peace Corps its kind of a misnomer, but it is a very good way to travel to a part of the world and help those in need in a variety of capacities.
Habitat for Humanity– The organization that started in America is now a truly international organization. Not only can you help build in your own community, you can help other communities from Georgia to Tajikistan, Cambodia to Peru.
Global Service Corps– This one you probably have never heard of, and its younger than all but one of the others but it is a great program as well and offers a lot more variety and choice in your eventual landing spot than some of the others.
Kiva Fellows– Work with Kiva.org and their Microfinance partners to discover more about microfinance on the ground, as well as the country you go to. If you are in Cambodia, Tajikistan, Kenya, Ukraine, or Peru you will have time to explore the country as well as work with many different entrepreneurs.
These aren’t the only organizations you can use, and I dont suggest that they are the best for you. There are literally thousands of organizations you can go through so look around and figure out what it is you want to do.
The best traveling with purpose that I’ve experienced though is the simplest kind. Travel Education. The study abroad programs are on the rise and I am whole heartedly behind this movement as it give students not only a new culture to have to deal with, but doing so in an informed and purposeful way. What more could you ask for? Happy Travels.
(In full disclosure for those who may not know me, I have participated in Kiva Fellows Program and Peace Corps, as well as worked with Habitat for Humanity and the UNDP)