Wouldn’t it be great to not only bring back something special from your travels, but also to leave something special behind? From cleaning up the beach to rescuing animals to helping out on archaeological digs, doing something worthwhile on holiday hasn’t become a travel trend for nothing—after all, it allows you to get to know the local culture and people that little bit better.
In Indiana Jones’ Footsteps
You don’t need to bring a lasso and fedora with you—just a bit of curiosity about our ancestors will do. They always have a lot to teach us. You can help researchers in Portugal look for traces of bygone generations who lived in the region some 8,000 years ago. Weekly expeditions to excavation sites run from August to September, and those with previous experience can join trips for expert assistants to ruins in Tuscany, for instance.
Glowing colours, raw nature, delicious cuisine—sadly not the only things that spring to mind when you think of India. The uncertainty inherent in women’s lives might be another. Jodhpur offers the chance to experience the country as a travel destination whilst consolidating female empowerment. The city is a favourite amongst travellers and a local NGO welcomes any support with open arms. It focuses on teaching girls and women how to read and write, offering them important information on their rights or educating them on topics such as hygiene and menstruation.
There is an acute shortage of teachers in Ghana. The classrooms are overcrowded and many children don’t have the benefit of going to school at all. Travellers can support the few teachers there and make a better future possible for the children through education. The local way of life—far removed from tourism—can be discovered at the same time whilst staying with a host family.
The consequences of colonisation are still apparent in Australia. Today, Indigenous peoples, who have suffered a long history of oppression, lack professional opportunities and their economic situation is even more precarious. Young people are particularly disillusioned, such as those in the Djarindjin community living on the Dampier Peninsula. The Tatanka Oyate association represents their interests. It organises tours for travellers, and the income this generates doesn’t only make school education possible, but also helps people in search of their Indigenous roots.
Millions of tonnes of rubbish land in the sea every year. We would all do well to change the way we think in the long term and holiday-makers can begin today. Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), for example, campaigns for the protection of birds and their nesting places with the Seas Without Plastic initiative or through various informative events. So on your next holiday at the North or Baltic Sea, just drop by, see what they have to say and get involved. After a fruitful day’s work, an evening spent lounging on a beach chair will feel a lot more rewarding.
For the most part, people are somewhat conflicted about the fact that wolves have made Germany their home once again. On the one hand, city-dwellers might indulge in the romantic notion of the roaming packs, while rural inhabitants live in fear of wolves and farmers complain of sheep herds being savaged. Biosphere Expeditions offer you the chance to make up your own mind. On these mini expeditions in Lower Saxony, starting every summer, you can investigate tracks left by wolves and take photo evidence. It’s also a chance, of course, to learn a great deal about these animals.
Staying at home is in itself a good deed, as whoever avoids taking a car or plane can worry less about their carbon footprint. And it doesn’t need to be boring either. Help is always needed in your local area, whether it’s helping to find accommodation for refugees, with activities or handicraft sessions in the retirement home around the corner or with feeding times at the local animal shelter. Along the way, you’ll see where you live in a new light, and all for the better.
Walkies Done Differently
Away from the tourist hotspots, Malta still has secluded beaches and untouched nature to offer. You don’t have to seek total solitude, though, as your holiday can always be combined with helping out at the animal shelter. The Island Sanctuary, for example, looks after orphaned dogs. The animals are mainly cared for by volunteers and there’s always something to be done here. In addition to helping out in the home, there’s also the option of supporting journeys, where you can care for adopted animals on their flight to their new home. Donations are always welcome, of course.
Beautiful landscapes, friendly people, splendid wine, good food: Italy is always worth a visit. Right now especially, since sustainable farming is becoming ever more important. There are ecological farms spread right across the country, with some offering homemade food and welcoming accommodation. The homepage of WWOOF lists farms where visitors are welcome to get stuck in themselves. Accommodation is free in return, and new acquaintances and experiences are sure to follow. There’ll certainly be one, or a few, great evenings to remember, too. The locations range from Lombardy in the north to Calabria in the south.