12 Ways to Make a Difference on Your Travels in 2023

Here's how to make travel help others – every month of the year.


woman feeding elephant Photo © Getty Images/Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Stringer

The global wave of support for responsible travel needs momentum to keep it going, so we’ve rounded up some inspiring ideas to do just that – one for every month of the year. 


Take a rickshaw tour in India

The Pink City Rickshaw Company has trained and empowered 200 women from low-income households in Jaipur to run local tours in custom-designed, eco-friendly rickshaws. The well-run tours immerse travellers in the local culture, food, sights and heritage of Jaipur. The tour operators signed up to become equity holders in the rickshaw company, which they now proudly own and manage.


Help street dogs in Greece

Exploring the Greek islands is a heavenly way to holiday but when you get to Crete, consider pausing for a couple of weeks to help out at an animal shelter. You’ll spend your mornings feeding and walking the dogs and cleaning cages and helping with the rescue of stray dogs. Your afternoons can be spent as you please.


Stay with a local in Nepal

The Community Homestay Network is a social enterprise that connects travelers with families across Nepal. Host families share their culture and daily life with their guests who, in return, give families access to a sustainable source of income through tourism. As well as being welcomed like a member of the family, you’ll have the chance to get involved with cooking and other daily chores and get to know the local community.


Walk your way around Japan

A hiker on the Kumano Kodo.
A hiker on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage in Japan. Photo credit: GettyImages/Janice Chen

Self-guided walking tours abound in Japan, and it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the country’s culture – and much kinder to the planet than getting around by car, bus or train. Walk from village to village on the Nakasendo Way, staying at local inns and soaking your worries away in the hot springs en route – or tackle the more challenging 70km Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage. The mountainous UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage route is steeped in Buddhist history. The only other pilgrimage route to obtain UNESCO World Heritage status is Camino de Santiago in Spain.


Mend a broken bear in Asia

Adventure World has teamed up with Animals Asia to end bear bile farming. More than 10,000 sun bears, moon bears and brown bears are held in captivity in Asia to have bile extracted from their gallbladders for use in Chinese medicine. Adventure World now donates $300 to Animals Asia for every one of its Asia trips booked. Adventure World has also launched a Conservation Collection of trips endorsed by the Treadright Foundation.


Visit One Planet Expo in The Netherlands

Science and culture museum, Museon Omniversum, is home to One Planet Expo, an exhibition based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals formulated by the United Nations. The interactive exhibition is an engaging way for visitors of all ages to learn how we can work together to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for the planet.


Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand

Not all elephant sanctuaries are created equal, but the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – endorsed by National Geographic and World Animal Protection – is among the most ethical. A 600m-long, 6m-high canopy walkway at the 30-acre sanctuary allows visitors to observe elephants doing their thing without disturbing them. The sanctuary rescues sick, injured and old elephants from the logging and tourism industry. You won’t find elephant riding or bathing here, but you will have a moving experience that supports the sanctuary’s good work.


Help restore the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Join EarthWatch researchers measuring environmental conditions and the diversity of marine life on an expedition helping to restore the reef. Coral reefs around the world are being impacted by climate change and other threats, but what scientists learn here will help the recovery of reefs everywhere. You’ll spend much of this five-day expedition in scuba gear underwater.


Walk to help Vietnamese youth 

One in five Vietnamese children are living in poverty so The Intrepid Foundation has teamed up with the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to support its annual Blue Dragon Marathon Walk. You can sign up to do a 21km or 42km fundraising walk anywhere in the world on September 10, 2023. Last year, walkers raised almost $200,000 to help Vietnamese kids in need.


Save sea turtles in Costa Rica

All seven sea turtle species are endangered, and volunteers play a vital role in saving them. In Costa Rica, you can patrol beaches for turtle nests with biologists, keep them safe from poachers and predators, and help young ones make it safely into the ocean. Talk about a feelgood getaway!


Cycle through Kenya to help children

This 500km cycle safari raises money for child.org programs that support women and children’s health in Africa and Sierra Leone. Setting off from the elephant playgrounds of Amboseli National Park, you’ll peddle your way through three incredible national parks to the Indian ocean coastline at Mombasa. The ride has a support team of guides, vehicles, a nurse, and a police escort.


Go souvenir shopping in Sri Lanka

Meaning ‘woman’ in Sinhala and Tamil languages, ‘Sthree’ provides a market for disadvantaged women and disabled people to sell their high-quality handcrafted wares, thus empowering them in their homes and communities. The Sthree store and cafe, a social enterprise located in Kandy, produces everything from sarees to jewellery made by women throughout Sri Lanka, while the cafe provides employment and training opportunities. Find out more about it here

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