Here’s a simple fact: travel is a privilege. Regardless of what bike you’re riding, how big or small your budget is, and how long or how far you can travel, you’re luckier than people who don’t have the freedom or the means to do the same. Just the type of passport you hold is mere luck; it’s much easier to travel the world on a Canadian or German passport than on, say, a Bolivian or an Iranian one.

Most privileges come with responsibilities, and travel isn’t an exception. Ted Simon once said than as travelers, our responsibility is to be ambassadors of cultures. And that may be enough – but what if you want to give back when you’re adventuring? Far and Further, a Czech world rider on a RTW mission, is planting trees in the Lure national Park in Albania when he isn’t riding or racing rallies; Winding Wheels have raised funds for a charity when traveling. If you’re interested in doing the same, here are some more ways of giving back when you travel:

Staying and Shopping Local

You may not have the time, the means, or the desire to volunteer when you’re traveling, but even simple, everyday acts can contribute to the communities you’re visiting. Staying local guesthouses and homestays instead of chain hotels is already a contribution, as is shopping at local markets and eating at local restaurants. Choosing local tour operators for all you off-bike activities like hiking, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, or mountaineering also helps. When buying souvenirs, buy local art; when learning a language, learn it from a local.

Giving Back When You Travel // ADV Rider

Bringing Supplies

If you want to help out a little more, check out the global Pack for a Purpose program. This platform enables travelers to bring school, animal welfare, or health supplies to communities in need around the world; the principle is simple – if you’re headed to, say, Guatemala and have some space in your panniers, perhaps you can bring some pens or markers for local schools. On the Pack for a Purpose website, you can select a destination and see what the needs of local communities are, and where you can bring the supplies. You can also search by initiative or cause if that’s your preference – either way, it’s an excellent platform to connect if you’re looking to give back when you travel.

Volunteering…For a Day

Would love to volunteer, but don’t have the time to stay somewhere for months? Give a Day Global is an organization that provides volunteering opportunities for travelers for just a few days, whether it’s assisting with teaching English, building a home, or giving a hand at a soup kitchen. With Give a Day Global, you can volunteer for short periods of time in each country you travel and make a small difference wherever you go.

Raising Funds with Your Trip

If you’re planning to travel for a while and you have a cause that’s close to your heart, why not raise funds for a charity or an organization that’s working on it? Plenty of NGOs are happy to set up fundraising pages, or you can even do it yourself via platforms like GoFundMe; if your trip has any sort of media, social media, or even just local exposure, you can promote the charity or organization you’re trying to help and raise funds – or at the very least, awareness – and help out that way.

Giving Back When You Travel // ADV Rider

Giving a Microloan

Can’t donate time or resources, but would like to help a Nigerian farmer buy some seeds or give a little boost to a seamstress in Palestine hoping to get a sewing machine? Microloans are a popular way to help people directly, without going via NGOs or other organizations. Platforms like Kiva enable people to lend microloans to individuals and communities in need (you can loan as little as $25), and you can see exactly where your money goes; plus, you’ll get it back when the project is successful. This isn’t necessarily tied to travel directly, but it’s a good way to give back, and there’s no need to jump through the usual hoops.

Giving Back When You Travel // ADV Rider

Giving a Helping Hand

Sometimes, there’s no need to look for volunteering opportunities or raise money – you can just give locals a hand when you travel, especially if you have skills that are useful in small communities or villages. I’ve helped shoe and train horses in a small Peruvian village completely by accident – I was staying at a small, family-run homestay, they happened to have horses, I happened to have experience with horses, and they needed another hand when shoeing and breaking horses in, so I stayed for a while longer and helped out a little. It’s easy to just improvise and help locals mend a fence, repair a car, or install a solar panel – but it counts, sometimes more than you think, and it costs little.

Do you try to give back when you travel? If so, how? Share some ideas in the comments below!

Images: Pixabay

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