Because there are a lot of things you do as a traveler that make other people’s lives better. Some of them you’ve probably thought of; you give tour guides jobs (thanks for that by the way!); you keep local bars and restaurants in business; you throw an extra 0 onto the bonus cheques of airline executives (…somehow not AS proud of that one).
Other amazing things your travels give the world, you might not have thought of yet.
1. Destination promotion: You promote the destinations you visit through your social media accounts and word-of-mouth recommendations. This promotion and subsequent increased visitation can help to create decent jobs, fight poverty, and improve the livelihoods of young people.
2. Honoring memories: By visiting the sites of, and learning about some of history’s darkest times, you honor the memories of those people who lost their lives, and those whose lives were changed forever.
3. Raising awareness: You see first-hand the very real problems that some destinations face, like gender inequality or climate change, and you help to create international awareness of those issues by sharing them with your network of friends, family and colleagues back home.
4. Improving intercultural understanding: But on a much more personal level, there is something really amazing you do as a traveler: by meeting people from other cultures, and having people from other cultures meet you, you are doing immeasurable good to help promote intercultural understanding and, while I swear I haven’t spent the morning smoking the green stuff and sitting in a massage circle, these cross-cultural relationships go a long way towards every Miss Universe contestant’s dream of World Peace. In short, it is a lot harder to misunderstand someone or carry preconceived prejudices when you’ve sat down with them, shared a drink, seen how they live their lives, and made a new pal.
2017 is the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, promoting tourism’s role in improved understanding, peace and security, driving economic growth for those who need it, and focusing on climate change and environmental factors.
Our friends at Hostelling International (HI) have enthusiastically thrown themselves into this important project head first, and as an affiliate of the UN World Tourism Organization, have some super cool projects they are rolling out this year.
February through November, they’re embarking on a new monthly goal, with focuses such as achieving carbon neutrality, caring for staff and volunteers, engaging guests, and this month’s amazing goal, “Giving Back and Building Bridges”.
Giving back and building bridges encompasses some incredible projects: we particularly love HI Bolivia’s OneDollarGlasses project (helping people who need, but unfortunately can’t afford, seeing glasses), and the Korea Youth Hostel Association’s World Youth Rally, teaching people about Korean culture, and ways to protect the environment.
It’s easy to look at these amazing projects and become a little bit intimidated, but travelling responsibly and making a positive impact doesn’t need too much effort! Hostelling International has some great tips on their blog about ways you can give back and build bridges in the communities you’re visiting.
Coming up in August, HI will be focusing on “Our Friends – Engaging Guests”, and as we’re buddies with the HI guys, that involves us at SANDEMANs NEW Europe. In various locations across our shared network, we offer daily pick-up services from various HI hostels for our FREE Tour, so that these HI guests are able to easily engage with, and learn, about the cities they’re in. We also offer HI members discounts on our paid tours for those who want to delve deeper.
Even more exciting though, that we’ll be looking over the coming months at ways visitors to our cities can help to make a positive contribution (like helping to clean up the beach in Barcelona), and we are super stoked that our HI pals are enthusiastic about joining in! Of course, these projects will be open to all of our guests, not just HI members, but we are grateful for the support we are already seeing from the HI team.
While there are always opportunities for travellers to help out and engage with the cities they’re visiting, just remember, that simply by being out there and experiencing new cultures, you are already making the world a better place. And we think that is pretty great