How to Give Back While on the Road

a family living out of their vehicle, traveling through central america

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When traveling for long periods of time a question that usually arises is “How do you make a living on the road?”

Often all you need is an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to take advantage of your talents. However, being on the road is much more than just thinking about yourself. It also pays to give back and be generous. Giving back to the community as a traveler is important because it gives you the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the people whose country or town you visit. You don’t have to spend or do much, and here are some of the simplest ways to give back while you’re on the road:

Participate in Microloans

If you are visiting a foreign country then your money can go a long way. Huffpost notes that a small amount of money by Western standards can make an enormous difference to the lives of other people in different parts of the world. Organizations like Kiva and Investours allow you to tour impoverish areas and connect with local entrepreneurs who have started, and grew their business through microloans. The earnings from these tours go directly into microloans for businesses in the community. Microloans can help entrepreneurs start or even expand their small business and is an easy way for you to help.

Support Local Businesses

If you cannot participate in microloans, choose where you shop instead. You can have a positive impact on local entrepreneurs by shopping and eating at small, family-run restaurants and stores. Looking for social entrepreneurs is also a good idea. Some of them may own coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants on the surface while also supporting local charities or providing vocational training sessions. Avoiding chain establishments is also a much more interesting way to travel.

Join Local Events and Volunteer Opportunities

Reader’s Digest points out that you leave a tangible mark on the community when you do volunteer work and join local events. Planeterra director Megan Epler Wood told Reader’s Digest, “Many travellers would like to give back and deliver genuine benefits through personal assistance to those less fortunate than themselves.” Every country offers some form of volunteer program, and all it takes is for you to be proactive and seek them out. Another good way to give back is to create your own fundraising event. A list of fundraising ideas created by Save the Children range from organizing a barbecue, where guests can make a small donation, to taking part in a sponsored hike. There are two benefits of starting your own fundraiser event while traveling. 1) You help a charity or give back to a local community and 2) It is a great way to meet new people and see new places. So combine your love of traveling with a good cause.

Mind Your Eco-Footprint

Opt for tote bags instead of plastic ones when you shop—not only will this help cut back on plastic waste, it will also reduce your carbon footprint. National Geographic strongly discourages you from purchasing wildlife products, which can range from animal furs, rare shells, and endangered wildlife products. These smalls steps can make a big difference. As travelers we are more aware of the world we live in and what needs to be done to better protect it.

Traveling is one of the most fulfilling things you can do for yourself, but it can become even more rewarding when you choose to give back to the local communities that you visit. After all, nothing beats making genuine human connections.