One of the most common things people commented during the impact trip I lead to Cambodia in January 2020 was that they’d never previously considered how to make a difference while travelling or on holiday.
Or at least not in the way we did during our trip.
Most of us have carbon off-setting on our radar when it comes to flying. You may even be considering travelling less or in different ways to reduce your environmental footprint.
But your impact isn’t just determined by how you reach your destination. Nor is it only about minimising your environmental footprint.
Every decision you make has an impact on you, others, and the planet.
This applies when on holiday as much as it does at home.
If you want to make a difference, do good, or give back while travelling, it’s about making conscious ‘impact’ choices while you’re away.
Opportunities to do good every day
During our trip we were eating out, going on excursions and seeking fun and interesting things to do most days, as many people do when on holiday.
A common practice for checking out what to do is to seek out recommendations in a guide book, local brochures, the hotel or Trip Advisor.
ONE small tweak to make a huge difference
We had a slightly different approach–one that enabled us to have a more positive impact just through the conscious choices we made about the places we ate in and activities we did.
I’m a great believer in supporting causes and so the FIRST thing we did was an internet search for social enterprises, charities and ethical businesses in the area.
By doing this we identified plenty cafes, restaurants and activities worth visiting BEFORE checking out their ratings on Trip Advisor. Of course their products and services need to be comparable in terms of quality.
This preliminary search of ‘social suppliers’ was our way of applying an extra ‘impact’ filter. Doing this enabled us to have a positive impact through deciding who to spend our money with (and thus support).
People in Cambodia make it so easy to do this as there are so many cafes, restaurants, workshops, events and tour companies run by social enterprises, charities or purpose-led businesses. Most shared each others’ leaflets and other resources to help tackle local environmental and social issues. Once you visited one, it was like being on an unofficial treasure hunt–one place led to another as we followed the seeds of kindness left by others.
- Eating out at fabulous social enterprise training cafes and restaurants–the meals we had were some of the best we had during our trip!
- Participating in a highly educational workshop by a charity called Free to Shine that gave us lots of insights into the challenges faced by people living in rural Cambodia
- A stunning acrobatic circus (no animals involved) run by a project that helped street kids to develop performance skills
- Going on a boat trip to less touristy floating villages, with a guide who had grown up in the place we visited
- Experiencing an excellent cycle tour with a local guide who really brought the history of Cambodia and Anchor Watt alive
- Making copper bracelets and learning Cambodian dancing
- Buying unusual gifts made from recycled materials
Choosing ethical and environmentally friendly hotels that treat their staff well is also another way to easily do good while travelling. Personally I still find it a challenge to find a hotel that ticks all the boxes. But asking questions about their envinonmental impact is a start.
Updating your travel habit software
Travelling with impact is game everyone can play anytime. Yet many are too distracted by life to realise it’s going on around them.
Many well intentioned travellers are still using old auto-pilot software–having forgotten to update their travel habits with the new environmental and social practices they adopt at home.
Making a difference enhances your trip
By putting impact at the heart of all we did definitely enhanced our trip.
It was lovely to spend time chatting to locals, learning more their culture and exploring the country in ways many tourists miss. Most of us also participated in activities we wouldn’t otherwise have done, partly due to our desire to support the causes.
Focussing on impact is a core principle I apply whenver I go away, as well as when I lead my impact trips and retreats.
How you spend your money reflects your real priorities
Ultimately this is about choosing who to give your money to.
This is really one facet of making conscious choices about where you spend your money. And of course, you don’t need to be far from home to start making smarter choices. I often consciously choose to support social projects near me.
Applying the same principle nearer to home
Likewise, when in Bristol last year, and had a wonderful time exploring new areas of the city while walking from one social cafe to another, in my bid to find the best places to work from. It was a lovely way to start to understand the cultural diversity of city, and certainly far more interesting than if I’d chosen to just go to one of the big chains.
Businesses need to make it easy for travelers and consumers
The ability to make conscious choices when travelling or at any other time in life obviously depends on causes and businesses communicating the good they are doing. At least if they want to attract conscious consumers.
It was interesting to see how even the smallest businesses in Cambodia understood the importance of communicating what they they stood for (e.g. only employing local guides, re-training homeless people, or their preferred Global Goals), their environmental policies and other ‘business-for-good’ practices. Many were certainly better at sharing this information on their websites, in their marketing and places of work.
I’ve said it many times, but in a market place with an increasing number of consumers preferring to buy from, work for and invest in businesses doing good, if you’re a business and you’re not communicating your impact through your marketing, you will be losing business to your competition.
Taking inspired action
As an individual, how could you have more positive impact when you’re travelling, locally or overseas?
If you run a business, how could you make it easier for conscious consumers or businesses to buy from you?
Whatever you take away from this blog, remember you matter and what you do next matters.
P.S. Join my Women Over Forty Rocking The World Facebook Group HERE.
Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of 100,000 people–by making it easier for women over forty to feel good, enjoy a meaningful life, and have more impact in the world.
Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes and Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves helping others, fundraising, and enjoying a quiet life by the beach in Scotland.
Alisoun is has written the following free resources:
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