Expedia Viewfinder and SOLO Eyewear partnered up to share some tips on how you can support other communities during your travels
As travelers, we often find ourselves forging our way along paths unknown. Sometimes this road leads to coveted vacation spots while other times to life-altering lessons. Along the way, it’s not uncommon to find that the path is not always perfectly paved. We stumble across communities in need of basic resources, and it’s only then that we realize we have the means to help and are inspired to do what we can to make a difference.
Here at Expedia Viewfinder, we heard about SOLO Eyewear’s mission to give, which provides cataract surgery and glasses to those in need, and we wanted to learn more about how everyday people can give back while traveling. We partnered up with SOLO Eyewear to spotlight the charitable ways in which you can do good during your adventures across the globe.
Instead of stocking up on toiletries and snacks in bulk from a chain store before your big trip, wait to buy amenities once you arrive at your destination. Depending on the city, there’s often fresh produce, handmade products, and home-cooked meals at the markets for purchase. By visiting the mom-and-pop shops at your destination, you’re more likely to find locally-sourced food, clothing, jewelry, and handcrafted souvenirs.
Do your research to find out where the markets are located and which ones best suit your needs. Some may specialize in food, such as fruits, vegetables, sweets, and baked goods, while others may be craft oriented. While you’re meandering through the stalls, stop by a farmer’s stand to inspect the produce, choose a fuzzy piece of fruit you don’t recognize, and strike up conversation with the vendor to learn more about it. Visiting these markets provides both a cultural experience and the opportunity to support the community with your purchases.
A little of your time and money can go a long way. Sign up with a reputable volunteer organization prior to your trip, or wait until you arrive in town to see how you could benefit the community.
Volunteering doesn’t necessarily require manual labor. Go beyond repainting walls and planting flowers, and determine where you could be most of service. Maybe that means tapping into your soccer skills with the children in the schoolyard or teaching English in the town square. Or use your nutrition degree to educate the community on healthy eating habits or follow your passion for recycling and organize a trash clean-up committee. Show them the art of photography as you capture photos of the locals or teach the children how to surf.
When you visit these remote communities, you have the chance to expose them to new skills and educate them in unique ways. By encouraging interest in certain topics, creating discussions, and imparting knowledge, you can help the locals build sustainable and self-sufficient solutions.
A small gesture on your part could mean the world to a community in need. When it’s time for you to return home or trailblaze to your next destination, inventory your belongings to see if there’s anything you can leave behind for the community. It could be something as generous as giving your surfboard to the kids or simple as offering the community the photographs you took. Or if you have flip flops, hiking boots, sunglasses, or other clothing and amenities in good condition, consider giving them to someone in need before you leave town.
Once you’re back on your home turf, you can continue to give back by sending care packages to the towns you visited. Whether the schools lacked paper and pencils or the cleanup efforts needed trash bags, pack up a box full of these items to ship to someone who can help disperse them, such as your host family, the school’s headmaster, or a community leader. And if you’re looking to further expand your efforts, raise awareness in your own town to encourage others to donate and help fill an even bigger box.
Traveling exposes us to the nooks and crannies of the world, and often you’ll meet people who could greatly benefit from your time, effort, and donations. If you’ve never traveled abroad before, check out these tips for your first trip. Regardless of where your travels take you, remember you can learn from a community, just as they can learn from you.
Staff writer for Expedia