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Travel is becoming less and less about ticking boxes off the bucket list, and more about travelling with a purpose – be it to learn something about yourself, achieve an unreal personal goal, go off the beaten path, or contribute to a local community.
Here's a quick look at some ways you can make your travels more purposeful.
What better way to culturally immerse yourself than by helping out in the community you’re vacationing in? Voluntourism = volunteering while travelling, and whether you want to help measure tree growth in Patagonia, teach electronics to schoolkids in Nepal, or help pull out invasive asparagus ferns in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park just north of Sydney, there’s something for any keen traveller who wants to help out. No excuses.
As long as voluntourism is practised ethically and as an exercise of real - you guessed it - purpose, it can be an incredible way to have a completely different travel experience – whether it’s in the next state over, or on the opposite side of the world.
When looking at potential voluntourism opportunities, it’s important to think about what skills you can really bring to the table, and to consider if your presence will have a positive or negative long-term impact on the community. Instead of going to help build a new school in Guatemala yourself, why not volunteer for an in-country NGO that helps teach locals how to do it themselves? This way, everyone’s empowered and it's proper peachy. Hint: do your research first, especially if you decide to do your trip through an organisation.
So in short, responsible voluntourism = heck yes.
Everyone’s been to the Eiffel Tower, everyone’s sat on the Spanish Steps, and everyone’s seen Times Square lit up at night. Yawn. Going off the beaten path to less discovered destinations is becoming more of an obvious option, especially with all the big hubs bursting at the seams with so many tourists you have no idea where you even are. Over-tourism can be a massive nuisance for locals, and other areas could really benefit from your visit, while welcoming you with wide arms. Opt for a more unique travel experience – instead of popping over for an island break in Bali, why not check out Komodo or Java right next door?
Travelling uses a lot of resources - whether it’s environmental, social or economic. But wherever you go and whatever you’re doing, it can be managed. As we all should, travellers are becoming more conscious about how their time in a community impacts the land and the people who live there. This means bringing your own water bottle and refilling it instead of purchasing disposable plastic water bottles, taking part in slower travel by taking the train instead of the plane to reduce your carbon footprint, using local tour operators and buying groceries or souvenirs at local markets to support their economy. The list goes on - check it out here.
Taking a trip specifically for the purpose of achieving a goal is way cool, and is a sure-fire way to make your mates jealous. And what could be more fulfilling than coming home and being able to say, “oh yeah, that reminds me of the time I spent a month walking the Camino de Santiago”. We’re talking about the adventurers who go on holiday to summit Mt Kilimanjaro, jet off to run the London Marathon, or pop down south to walk Tasmania’s Overland Track. It takes passion, perseverance and most importantly, purpose, to pull these kinds of holidays off, but man is it worth it.
Ah, the digital nomad – it seems like they have it all. They work on their laptop by the pool in exotic, palm-fringed locations, take Wednesday off because they just can, and never, ever stop travelling (and telling you all about it in excruciating detail). Whether it means finding a company who’s willing to let you a have a little wiggle room, or just jumping ship and starting your own freelance operation wherever the heck you like, the life of a digital nomad is enviable to say the least. It’s a great way to travel while still being able to work on something that matters to you, and develop your skills. If that ain’t purpose, I don’t know what is.
Travelling for the purpose of refreshing your life is super trendy. People travel to India in droves to learn how to practise meditation and mindfulness, Sri Lanka is a hot spot for yogis wanting to further develop their yoga, and the endless list of places you can visit to simply relax and recharge is overwhelming. Sometimes we just need a little self-care, y’know? May as well do it somewhere exotic.