Philanthropic Travel – What You Need to Know

After the recent changes in the world and the pause that was put on travel, seeing more of the world is now a priority for many of us. Having plenty of time to think about what matters to them most has meant that many people are now seeking travel opportunities that have meaning and make a positive impact on the destination they visit, instead of just taking generic trips to popular places. 

The word philanthropy means having a passion for giving to others, especially those who are less fortunate. This can be done through helping with material gains, such as money, or can be through working to help build communities that are in need. 

Many people planning future holidays are pursuing philanthropic travel experiences, seeking opportunities that allow them to engage and interact with real people and ensure that their visit is spent making a difference. But there’s a lot to consider before embarking on this kind of trip, which is why we’ve put together this article offering a wider insight into philanthropic travel and what you need to know before taking part.

What is Philanthropic Travel?

Philanthropic travel pairs philanthropy and travel, meaning that visitors to a destination can give back to the locations that they visit and ensure that their holiday doesn’t have a negative impact on a place and its people. It allows travellers to gain a wider perspective on the world and have a more authentic experience of wherever they visit, as well as allowing for a more sustainable and respectful kind of travel.

Combining travel and philanthropy allows you to experience a different kind of tourism that facilitates giving back to the area you visit. One of the most popular kinds of philanthropic travel is volunteering holidays, which allows you to experience the world whilst also being a force for good.

Why is Philanthropic Travel Important? 

Philanthropic travel is important as it promotes sustainability and helps to support communities in destinations that may be struggling with a range of social, political and climate-related issues. It also works to counteract the effects of over-tourism by prompting a different kind of travel that is mindful of the places visited and the impact that these trips have.

Seeing other parts of the world and getting involved in philanthropic action can be a real eye-opener for many travellers, spurring them to take action against a wide range of issues. This has the obvious benefit that it lends more support to people already fighting to make a difference, with holidays and organised trips bringing in much-needed funds. 

By travelling to places where you can make a difference and help those in need, you are also helping support the financial aspect of this country or region as you live and spend there whilst on your travels, which lends to supporting their economy. 

There are some issues with philanthropic travel that come from certain organisations using the idea as a way to get more money from travellers without giving back to the community, or with visitors focusing on how good philanthropy makes them feel instead of actually supporting a cause and ensuring that their trip has a positive impact. Appropriate research is definitely needed before embarking on a philanthropic holiday, but if you find the right program and people then it can be an incredibly impactful experience.

How Can You Ensure You Are Connecting With The Right Programs?

First, it is important to decide on what you are hoping to gain out of your philanthropic travel experience. This can then help influence where you travel and what volunteer opportunities you get involved with.

There are many great volunteer travel programs out there that are constantly doing good and giving back to those who require the support. Many of these companies operate throughout the world and focus on different areas at one time. 

Once you have decided where you want to go and what you aim to do whilst you are there, you can then choose which philanthropic travel company you choose to travel with. 

When exploring different philanthropic travel companies it is important to gain a wider understanding of what their goals and aims are and what they truly stand for. As previously touched upon, working alongside travel organisations that are only in it for monetary gain is not a route to go down, so you should definitely take the time to read reviews and ensure that you’re travelling with a company that does genuine good.

This process may require a lot of research and time to ensure that you are working alongside other volunteers who have the same motivations and intentions as you. It is important to be a part of a team who are all in it for the right reasons, making a difference and changing other people’s lives for the better. 

How to Practice Philanthropic Travel

When deciding that you want to travel on a philanthropic holiday, it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start. There are many different ways in which you can practice philanthropic travel, which will depend on how you choose to travel and where you choose to go. Some methods have more of an impact than others, but no matter what you are doing you are making a difference and having a positive impact through your travel, which is incredibly important. 

A couple of the most common examples of practising philanthropy whilst travelling are listed below. 

  • Volunteer Whilst Travelling

Volunteer travel is the best-known form of philanthropic travel, and one of the easiest ways to plan a holiday that involves making a positive difference to the place you visit.

It’s a great way to explore the world whilst giving back, visiting a new place and exploring their culture but also helping to support communities and organisations that are in need? 

Volunteer travel opportunities also open doors to getting to know different people and their cultures. This creates a genuine connection that not only helps people in those areas, but also helps to improve ourselves and our understanding of the world around us.

  • Practice Sustainability

Practising sustainability whilst you travel means that you are travelling in a way that is kind to the planet as well as the place you are heading to. 

Considering how you get to your destination is a great way to practice sustainability whilst travelling. Being conscious of your carbon footprint is important, but many countries are only or easiest to reach by plane, so choosing an airline that is eco-friendly is often a better option. 

Booking accommodation with hotels that are eco-conscious is also a good way to be sustainable. It’s also a good idea to try and stay with independent or local brands when it comes to choosing your accommodation, as these businesses often have a smaller environmental impact and help to support the local economy.

Something that you can do when travelling is to ensure that you are reducing your food and plastic waste. Many countries that are popular tourist destinations have a real problem with the excessive waste that these visitors bring to their homes, so being more aware of the environment and how different materials impact this leads to much more sustainable travel.

Supporting the local economy where you choose to travel to is also a great way to be sustainable. Choosing countries that need tourism and buying from local vendors, as well as only consumer fair-trade products help towards building a better environment for the area you choose to visit.

  • Join Philanthropic Travel Companies

There are plenty of amazing organisations out there that aim to make a difference by facilitating travel to destinations that need support. Booking trips with philanthropic travel companies is one of the best ways to practice this kind of travel, as you’ll know that the money you pay for your holiday will be used for positive change.

It is definitely worth researching these organisations to find the ones that best align with your aims and who are seeking the same outcomes from philanthropic travel. This doesn’t always necessarily mean just travelling with these organisations, this could involve raising awareness and promoting them, which will help get others on board to work towards the cause at hand. Many philanthropic travel companies are constantly seeking people to help contribute to their cause, so the more people there to lend a helping hand, the better!

  • Support Local Sellers 

When travelling to a different country, it can be easy to slip into using and supporting the same brand names that we know and have tried back home. However, by purchasing products from local vendors, you are helping to support their economy and give back whilst you travel. 

This can make a huge difference, as tourism is a huge source of income for many countries. It also helps ensure that local sellers are given the opportunity to build their businesses with help from tourists that choose to travel to their area and support their trade.

Things to Consider

After taking into consideration all of the points above, we hope that you are now feeling inspired to go out into the world and make a difference through your travel. Here are a few final things to consider when planning a trip.

  • Where Do You Want to Go?

The most important thing to consider is deciding where you want to travel to. This will dictate the work you get involved with whilst you are there and the kinds of experiences that are available for travellers to partake in.

Knowing where you want to go can also help determine which philanthropic organisation you choose to work with. Many organisations operate in a variety of countries, with some focusing on specific locations.

  • How Much Time Do You Want to Dedicate to Volunteering Versus Tourism?

When deciding to embark on a philanthropic adventure, you want to make sure that you have a clear idea in your mind as to how much time you want to spend exploring and how much time you want to spend volunteering. 

It is easy to get to a new country and be so enthralled in the change of scenery that you may forget why you went there in the first place. Vice versa with volunteering; you want to ensure that you are enjoying visiting new parts of the world, as well as doing good whilst you are there.

If you organise a philanthropic trip yourself then you should be able to plan in enough time to be a tourist as well as working on local projects and offering help. If you’re travelling as part of an organised tour, be sure to research how much free time you get during the trip if this is important to you.

  • What Volunteer Service Would You Like To Perform?

Philanthropy can take many forms and support many different causes. There is a wide range of trip types available, involving work in areas such as healthcare, education, childcare, construction and political activism.

It’s a good idea to choose a trip or tour that involves supporting a cause you genuinely care about, such as conservation or rebuilding communities after environmental disasters. If you have experience or skills in certain roles, it may also be useful to choose a travel experience that will allow you to put these talents to good use, such as people with medical or teaching experience working in these professions in another country.

  • Challenges That Come with Philanthropic Travel 

There are plenty of challenges to consider when deciding to take part in philanthropic travel. It can be an eye-opening experience that can sometimes be very overwhelming and emotional, particularly if you’re directly working with people that have been affected by things such as poverty, war or natural disasters.

You must remember that you are visiting a new place to make a difference, and whilst being affected by your work is normal, you will need to be able to carry on. Consider how much you may be impacted by what you do, and ensure you take part in trips that you feel you will be able to fully contribute to and which won’t leave you feeling drained or overly upset.

Philanthropic travel is incredibly rewarding, and the challenges associated with it shouldn’t put you off. It is, however, important to be prepared and seriously consider if you’re right for some kinds of work.


After reading through this article, we hope that you now have a better understanding of philanthropic travel, what it involves and how to take part. Travelling can be the ultimate learning experience, as you get to witness plenty of different cultures and meet and learn from lots of new people from a range of backgrounds. There are so many causes that you can support whilst travelling that allow you to have a much more meaningful experience as you see the world, and philanthropic travel is a fantastic way to ensure that you have plenty of adventures whilst also leaving a lasting impact.

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