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Why is philanthropic travel more important now than ever?

Rebecca Ward
By Rebecca Ward
27 May 2020
Philanthropic travel Tanzania - Ol Lentille Trust.jpg

Over recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of world issues and global needs and as such, there has been a recent surge in travelling as a means to give back.

Recent events have brought an awareness of community support as well as our own health and that of the planet to the forefront of human consciousness. Travellers must be more motivated than ever before to explore more meaningful travel that promises to help others in a hands-on way. Travel can teach us the truth of human inequality and a planet in peril, and make us feel a sense of purpose through participative experience rather than inactive observation.

How will COVID-19 change travel?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the effects that are being felt by communities around the world, I believe that the trend in philanthropic travel will, and must, accelerate. Travellers will become more selective in where they go, with a leaning towards places that are more remote and deep in nature.


Travellers are increasingly aware of the impact on communities and wildlife following the halt in tourism, particularly to Africa and Asia. Therefore, as we plan our future travel, we must be more willing to help.

Charities that operate on the ground have never faced a more uncertain future as they rely on tourism revenue to enable them to operate. A crippled tourism industry is leading to countless local job losses including community rangers that protect endangered wildlife.


With no source of income, levels of poaching are increasing so that villagers can feed their families and make a living. Furthermore, much-needed conservation research, education and healthcare programs are at great risk of permanent closure.

In addition, the extinction of wildlife has always been widely publicised. However, the challenges of the wildlife trade have been heightened due to the virus. There will be increasing pressure on countries such as China and Vietnam to stop the insatiable consumption of the world’s wildlife. Travellers may aspire to be more hands-on with community-conservation organisations to understand more about the threats to wildlife.


What are the benefits of donor travel?

Donor travel can ultimately bring you closer to the issues and communities you care about. It strengthens the connection between you as a traveller and charitable organisations, as well as providing an opportunity to leave an inspiring legacy in areas that are increasingly threatened or challenged.

What a way to enhance your holiday or vacation, by elevating it to something that not only is a revitalising break for yourselves, but makes a significant difference to the lives of wildlife, communities and ecosystems in need. That makes for a truly extraordinary holiday!


How can one travel philanthropically?

A difference can be made in two core ways.

Firstly, by supporting one of The Explorations Company’s nominated projects through a long-established practice of levying a small voluntary contribution within your overall itinerary cost. These collective funds are designated to projects at the end of each financial year and The Explorations Company also directly contributes from profit.

Projects to benefit from these funds are determined based on our partner charities’ urgent or immediate requirements, often in less-travelled geographical areas on the basis that charities in the more favoured destinations will have benefitted more from direct client support.


Secondly, I encourage you to visit and ideally participate in the work of one or more of the charity projects in the region of your vacation, as an integral part of your journey. With expert planning advice and in-depth knowledge of your own interests, the project that you visit will be tailored to your own interests. Donations to these projects will normally be made to the recipient before travel so that visiting and participating in project activities is far more meaningful.

What hands-on opportunities are there?

There is a unique range of activities for you and your family. These run from helping to build a chilli plot or fuel-efficient stoves in Botswana through releasing sea turtles and planting mangrove seedlings in Kenya to helping with micro-commercial sewing and craftwork projects in Uganda and India.


Alternatively you might also like to track and collar a lion, elephant or rhino; there is a wonderful range of possibilities where the aim is for you and the project to both benefit in different ways; a “win-win” situation! To learn more about the crucial work of our partners, one can also meet founders, researchers, beneficiaries and members of local communities.

What is Explorations Plus?

Explorations Plus is a channel for you to help, through your travel experiences, our efforts in financing community improvement and biodiversity conservation. As a donor, you can visit projects we support and, crucially, see the direct impact of your contribution. The very act of making a donation and investing in a project in Africa, Asia or South America superbly enhances and rewards the overall travel experience whilst, at the same time, establishing a truly lasting personal connection.

Explorations Plus is a registered 501(c) (3) in the United States where your gift is tax-deductible as provided by law. Explorations Plus will become a registered foundation within the United Kingdom during 2020 so that Gift Aid can be applied to your donation.


How does Explorations Plus choose its charity partners?

The range of organisations we have partnered with sustainable initiatives on-the-ground in nearly all the countries and areas to which we travel. We do not select organisations according to favouritism, instead focusing primarily on little-known entities at the lower end of the income scale. All demonstrate high impact and value through established community outreach activities and/or conservation efforts.

We have carried out our due diligence, formed committed relationships and, in most cases, had first-hand experience of these projects; this latter is of course an ongoing process. During the next two years we will continue to select additional entities, especially in Asia and South America.

How can I find out more about philanthropic travel?

I would be delighted to discuss philanthropy travel and our specific partner charities further with you. To discuss the projects and organisations in further detail, please feel free to contact me directly or at The Explorations Company.


Images used by kind courtesy of:

Isak Pretorias, Sangha Lodge, Adam Bannister, Local Ocean Conservation, Jeremy Goss, Olle Nordell, Ol Lentille Trust, Edward Selfe, Mayamiko Trust, Big Life, Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust