Worked through the holidays? You need a break! Here are eight meaningful, sustainable and budget travel ideas for 2015.
Traveling is often hailed as an eye-opening and rewarding experience, one of the few things can truly enrich you as a person. So much can be learned by experiencing the different ways in which lives are led around the world, and the contrast of situations and opportunities. The ability provide positive change and to affect areas in need for the better (without much input), is often overlooked or underplayed. Yet it is entirely within our reach. In the business world, one can often feel removed from the simple things that are so important in life. Here are some of the many ways that you can contribute to the glorious diversity of cultures, communities and landscapes, whilst taking some time for yourself.
The Perhentians are often described as a diving paradise. As one of Malaysia’s finest islands, they are ranked 13th most beautiful in the world. Their reefs are home to a plethora of animals and rare species, from fish to sea turtles. Maintenance and protection is vital to their survival and to the preservation of their delicate ecosystem. Working alongside PhD researchers, you could have the opportunity to truly experience this wonder of nature, whilst being fundamental to its survival. Also home to hundreds of local fishermen and villagers, the organization helps to support and educate women and children, in addition to bringing revenue to the local community. Find out how you can be part of marine diving conservation at ResponsibleTravel.com.
If you want to experience aquatic zoology but don’t have the time to commit to a full-scale study, TheDorsalEffect.com offers day trips in Lombok, Indonesia. Built around a campaign of sea life preservation, trips with The Dorsal Effect include snorkeling, beach hopping and environmental programs to keep the coasts clean. As a fun and sustainable option, this is very relaxed. Bookings are only needed four days in advance.
Tao Philippines are another highly acclaimed option, offering boat trips to the outer islands of Palawan. As yet, these remote destinations are untouched by mass tourism, with scenery that leaves a lasting impression. With ten to a boat, you’ll set off in the morning, return in the evening and the rest is up to you. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to scenery and activity in the pristine waters. Tao also runs their own social welfare project, focusing on education, nutrition and medical help for the communities of northern Palawan. As a relaxed, responsible and unforgettable experience, Tao Philippines provides a great deal.
For a more hands-on experience, WorldExpeditions.com offers a wide range of options which focus on encouraging communities across Asia. Pa Van is a village in the mountains of North Vietnam and is a quintessential example of Vietnamese lifestyle. The two week trip will see travelers working alongside buildings from the village, renovating the Thanh Son primary school and kindergarten. This offers the unique chance to support the community, whilst experiencing the culture. Over the course of the next few days, you’ll head into the national parks surrounding Mai Chau and Halong bay, before visiting Ho Chi Minh. It’s an expansive and involved look at Vietnam, where travelers can get a truly holistic, personal experience.
Chiang Mai is already becoming a staple in the itinerary of those seeking a more spiritual atmosphere. Aside from the many scenic and historic attractions, the town has become home to a host of NGOs working closely with Burmese asylum seekers and refugees. The Free Bird Cafe is a great example, providing excellent Thai, Shan and Burmese food, as well as supporting local artists. The cafe sources travelers and local talent to provide free language lessons for the indigenous community. Their Pre-Loved shop sells Burmese and Thai products handmade by refugees. Even by tasting their acclaimed Tea Leaf Salad you can support their efforts in helping the local people and refugees.
Pun Pun Thailand is a contributor to Pre-Loved charity shop. Using natural ingredients, they produce an extensive range, from kaffir lime soaps to roselle and mulberry jams, all without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The attitude of Pun Pun is of providing a low-tech self-reliant lifestyle, with sustainable, natural building techniques. The farm also prides itself in seed saving, collecting and propagating rare indigenous seeds from Thailand and around the world. Day visitors are welcomed for free, whilst people staying longer are asked to give small donations. They offer workshops on sustainability for individuals or groups and are always looking for volunteers to help them on their mission.
Mad Monkey of Cambodia are easy going hostels with an energetic and youthful ethos, offering bike tours, canoes through sunken jungles and even hot air balloon rides. Whether it’s a source of adventure or just a place to crash, with Mad Monkey you are supporting responsibility in Cambodia, from improving water quality and education, to promoting local arts. Without links to larger multinationals with underlying political directions, they instead find and fund projects directly. Trip Advisor certificate of excellence winners for three years running, Mad Monkey Hostels are conscious of the necessity of aid, as well as how to implement it effectively.
For those with ample air-miles saved, Common Connections are launching a two week venture covering Cambodia and Nepal in 2015. Siem Reap and Kathmandu are both home to many responsible entrepreneurs and social enterprises, and start-ups could learn much from this experience. CCNS.com.hk offer tailored trips, having worked in the field of education and with the rehabilitation of victims of landmines and human trafficking. Their latest excursions have been largely concerning architecture and art restoration, with many cultural activities along the way. For a personalized and engrossing trip, CCNS can cater for your socially responsible experience.