Welcome to Part 2 of ‘How To Volunteer When You Cant Volunteer’.
We can’t always ‘volunteer’. It’s simply not possible. There are personal and market resource barriers that make working or offering a service for free all the time near impossible (unless you’re retired, or a billionaire.)
We’d all love to (most of us) like to give back or limit the impact we have when we travel (remember when Carbon Offset was a big thing?). However, not all of us have the time, or know how about spending some time helping out.
To volunteer is in its most basic form, is to offer your time, for which could be said is the most valuable thing you can give, especially for free.
When we think ‘volunteering’ we broadly think of teaching children English, or building houses, or digging a well to help out a community in developing nations, and yes, you can do these things. It’s becoming a booming industry itself, along with its pro’s and cons, which make it clearly something that should you want to do, you should look very carefully into with who, where and how you do it.
If we begin to see ‘volunteering’ as ‘giving your time for free’, then we can find plenty of ways that your time can be ‘spent’ adding value to the travel when we travel.
As mentioned in a previous post, all of us, all travellers have an impact on the destinations we visit. Spending time learning about the environmental, cultural and economic impact is the best place to start.
Sure, it doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve all come across an another traveller, or tourist, who can’t even pronounce the name of the local currency without make us cringe. Little things make a difference.
1. Volunteer some of your time before you go learning about some of the issues your destinations faces so that you’re more mindful of them while you are there. Sure, you can keep doing your research on the where the great beaches and sites to see are, but if you want to find ways to add value destination you’re going to have to scratch the surface a little.
2. Support Local Businesses.
It’s better for the local economy if we can prevent ‘leakage‘, and no, it has nothing to do with nappies or adult diapers, or preventing you from ‘living life to the fullest’.
Leakage is where the money you spend in your destination ends up flowing back out of the country, inevitably not helping it in the long run.
For example – A study of tourism ‘leakage’ in Thailand estimated that 70% of all money spent by tourists ended up leaving Thailand (via foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, imported drinks and food, etc.). Estimates for other Third World countries range from 80% in the Caribbean to 40% in India. Of each US$ 100 spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country, only around US$ 5 stays in a developing-country destination’s economy. (Source)
So, no more MacDonalds. It’s not helping anyone.
3. Support Local Charites.
There are ways to give your time and your money to local causes without just handing over your money. A great example is Friends International. They, amongst many others, offer locally produced handicrafts, in this case, made by women (not by kids), giving them the skills, confidence and income that they may not otherwise have.
They also offer, for the foodies, locally run restaurants throughout South East Asia. The restaurants (listed here) ‘A global alliance of training restaurants working to build futures for former street youth, marginalised young people and adults.’
So, instead of MacDonalds, support a local charity, give your time support the local economy and culture at the same time. You may just get a better feed at the same time.
4. Use A Travel Service That Gives Back To Charity
There is a range of companies and systems that offer a service where simply by using them, in turn, give up a nominated amount of their profits or commission. One favourite of mine is the http://thetravellottery.co.uk – where ‘the Travel Lottery gives you the chance to win up to £5,000 every month AND help protect the future of your favourite holiday destinations.
At MORE MAKES MERRY, we have engaged with all of your favourite travel sites; such as Expedia, STA Travel and Booking.com. By making your way to their service websites via our site, any booking made earns us a commission. Commission which would otherwise no be handed out. Of the commusion we recieve 100% of it goes directly, in the form of money to charities listed on our site.
There were 1.4billions trips made around the globe last year. 600,000 Australians took a trip to Bali. Imagine if each of those trips just earned just $1 commission per trip, and that money help the local economics.
Each year there will continue to be an ever-increasing number of travellers roaming the world. With the Travel industry creating new and tighter regulations to limited the negative impacts of tourism, and so they have a product they can supply us with for years to come it is equally important that we seek to find ways to do what we can and not leave it up to the suppliers and regulators.
After all, we all have exactly the same vested interest, from two different sides of the coin.