Do you have a bucket list of must-see destinations? Whether you're planning to explore tropical or arctic destinations, travel affords many health benefits. Science agrees: a German study showed that even a short vacation can increase our sense of well-being for as long as 45 days.
And, it's a proven scientific fact that charitable giving delivers the same benefits. Studies have shown that generous people report greater vitality and contentment. So, charity may be one of the most important considerations when choosing a travel destination. Want to know which charities speak to the goals of travelers? Here are our top five picks for charities that travelers should consider donating time or resources to.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976. While its administrative offices are located in Georgia, the organization has community-level branches all over the world. The largest not-for-profit builder on earth, Habitat for Humanity constructs dwellings for those affected by economic or natural disasters. It's one of the most influential charities in the world.
For travelers who want to help rebuild communities, Habitat for Humanity offers several opportunities that combine travel and charity. You can participate in the "Global Village" program, which takes you to one of thirty countries. There, you'll immerse yourself in the local culture while aiding in disaster recovery efforts, working with vulnerable populations, and participating in energy efficiency projects.
Trips have been scheduled to Asuncion (Paraguay), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Tecpan (Guatemala), and Chiang Mai (Thailand) in 2020. Interested in visiting these places? Be sure to check available destinations and apply early to avoid disappointment.
And, if you're a member of Thrivent (a fraternal member-owned financial services organization), you can organize a trip or join Habitat for Humanity on a worldwide quest to build affordable homes for marginalized populations. For those who prefer to travel within the United States, Habitat for Humanity offers the "RV Care-A-Vanners" program. You'll hop into your RV and travel to a variety of sites across America, where you can serve as a Master Safety Trainer or work as part of the Disaster Rebuild Team.
Love to travel and have a generous soul? If so, you'll want to sign up for one of the opportunities mentioned. In lieu of traveling with Habitat for Humanity, you can also donate money, cars, stock, or memorial gifts to the organization.
Travelers who are eco-warriors at heart, this one's for you. Founded in 1987, Conservation International (CI) works to preserve our planet's natural treasures for the benefit of future generations. The organization's main focus is climate change, water safety, food security, and biodiversity. To date, it has secured the protection of more than 2.3 million square miles of land and ocean ecosystems in more than 70 countries.
In 1989, CI identified 36 biodiversity hotspots around the world and committed to protecting them. These hotspots, according to Conservation International, support more than half of the world's endemic plant species (species that can't be found anywhere else) and over 40% of bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.
Forests, rivers, and oceans are deeply vulnerable to climate change. Over time, these ecosystems may experience coastal erosion, the growth of toxic algal bloom populations, sea-level rise, and decreasing fish stocks.
You can make a difference by donating to CI. Are you a frequent flyer with United Airlines, a CI partner? If so, consider donating your flyer miles to offset your carbon footprint and support REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) projects around the world. And, to make donating to CI even easier, the next time you shop online, consider making purchases through AmazonSmile and 0.5% of proceeds will be donated directly to CI.
Americares was founded in 1979 and focuses on assisting victims of tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The organization is headquartered in Connecticut but is global in reach. Americares also operates free health care clinics in some of the most conflict-ridden regions in the world.
For travelers who want to assist in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, Americares provides a number of ways to contribute. From working as part of an emergency response team to volunteering at an Americares Free Clinic, there are many opportunities to lend a hand. In addition, Americares also accepts donations via its website, whether you choose to give a one-time donation or a regular monthly gift.
Founded in 2002, GlobalGiving provides a crowdfunding platform to connect charitable organizations and donors from all over the world. It mainly focuses on disaster relief campaigns.
Over the years, it has raised funds for victims of Hurricane Maria, the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the Australian wildfire crises. All in all, GlobalGiving has raised more than $440 million dollars and featured more than 25,000 charitable campaigns.
If you're interested in current initiatives that need funding, head to the projects page. You can also see the organization's top-funded projects and donate to urgent humanitarian causes on the disaster funding page.
GlobalGiving trains field travelers to host training sessions, conduct visits to GlobalGiving partner sites, and interact with local networks.
Field travelers are selected through a competitive process. But, if chosen, you'll not only travel the world but also touch the hearts of those you visit. To date, GlobalGiving's field staff members have visited more than 60 countries, performed over 1,000 site visits, and traveled across six continents. If you want to travel AND make a difference in the world, this is your chance to do so.
The oldest organization on our list, Direct Relief, formerly known as Direct Relief International, was founded in 1948 to help people all over the world improve their quality of life.
From providing postwar assistance after World War II to bringing much-needed supplies to medical centers in disadvantaged areas, Direct Relief focuses on respecting the individual and providing assistance with compassion.
Direct Relief has also provided maternity and prenatal care to regions with inadequate medical infrastructure. Even though Direct Relief has become one of the largest charities in the United States, its focus remains the same — improving the lives of all global citizens.
Want to know how you can make a difference? If stories about the coronavirus outbreak make you concerned, there's something you can do: donate to Direct Relief so it can provide personal protective equipment to medical teams and citizens in the regions where it's needed most. When you travel to these areas in the future, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you were an important part of relief efforts.