Shadow of a man hiking with a backpack in the mountains at dusk

What is Impact Tourism and why you should care? 

If you love to travel and are longing to do it with a sense of purpose, you’ve come to the right place.

Though it’s always fun to end your latest adventure with a camera roll of Instagram-worthy shots and TikTok videos, impact tourism can make your trip even more memorable. These trips give you that little push to create opportunities that drive positive impact while immersing yourself deeper into a culture that you’re already exploring. Here’s how you can leave a lasting impact on your next adventure by giving back to local communities all while creating authentic connections.

Small girl cleaning up trash on the shores of a beach

What is impact travel?

Simply put, impact tourism is a type of tourism where travelers contribute time, talent and donations to economic, socio-cultural and environmental endeavors. Focuses can include preserving nature, cultural environments and caring for the well-being of others. 

Impact travel doesn’t mean commiting all of your time and vacation days to philanthropy. Making a positive contribution can be as simple as skipping that fancy chain hotel and opting for a homestay or grabbing coffee at a neighborhood cafe over Starbucks. Here are some suggestions on how to start small when it comes to exploring more consciously:

A little goes a long way

Getting started is easy. Leave some room in your suitcase and squeeze in a couple of supplies for the kiddos at schools in need that you can donate to once you arrive. Research and connect with the communities in advance or seek out organizations – like Pack for a Purpose – where you can choose items from a “wish-list” that you bring with you to your destination. Just pick where you’re going, what items you want to bring from the list and drop them off at the designated location. 

You can also get involved by focusing on community tourism which aims to ensure that tourism positively impacts the destinations that tourists frequent. By donating or working with companies like The Planeterra Foundation, an organization that supports community tourism by making sure travel dollars land in the pockets of those who actually inhabit the communities themselves, we can strengthen community tourism around the world. In turn, economic opportunities are created, destinations are protected and cultures are celebrated through travel.

womens backs showing traditional costumes in the northern part of Romania

Keeping in mind the environment

There’s no way around it – to travel internationally we need to take to the skies. But we can still help the planet when we adventure – both near and far. 

As a general rule, the shorter the distance from home you travel, the lower your carbon footprint. Consider venturing on a domestic trip a few hours from home for a staycation. Find local, off the beaten track, hikes and museums.

Backpacker hiking in a mountain range

If you are looking to go further consider doing so outside peak summer months. Find homestays, local activities and guides in order to give back to residents rather than heading to tourist traps. And you don’t have to stay somewhere that’s eco-certified – consider farm stays that run off of solar power, serve their own fresh organic produce and employ locals. 

And of course, transportation is such a big topic. Put flying aside and let’s talk about other modes of transportation. When it comes to cars – the greater the number of passengers, the lower the carbon footprint per mile for each person. Some might also be shocked to learn that trains as a form of travel actually emit the lowest levels of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, whether they are electric or diesel-powered. Keep this in mind the next time you are planning your adventure. 

Conscious exploration

There are endless ways to practice impact travel wherever you go. Simply being mindful of your adventures could create long-lasting, positive effects. Travel near, travel far, travel with a conscience – and don’t forget to bring Faye Travel Insurance along wherever you head to next.

These organizations are suggestions for ways to make an impact abroad. Faye is in no way associated with them or their mission. This post is meant to give you ideas and inspiration on ways to make a difference.

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