Sustainable travel and eco-tourism have been taking the travel industry by storm for quite
some time. While sustainability addresses the question of moving through the world responsibly
and lessening our environmental impacts, it doesn’t fully address the idea of leaving a space
better than we found it. This is where the idea of regenerative travel comes into play.
Regenerative tourism goes beyond the goal of “not damaging the environment,” and puts a lot of emphasis on replenishing what is already there! Whether by helping community members, the local economy or restoring some of the natural landscape, this kind of travel can take us all across the globe.
With that being said, here are a few examples of the kind of work that can expose us to beautiful destinations and ensure that we give back to the community we’re visiting! Some organizations also pay or supply housing for volunteers which helps travelers save money while seeing the world.
Tree planting is a great way to regenerate land, meet new people and make some extra money throughout the summer. There are countless organizations worldwide that hire travelers to plant native trees. This is especially popular among younger globetrotters, due to the fact that planting trees can be very physically demanding.
Independent organizations looking to hire volunteers can be found online, on varying community Facebook pages, and by word of mouth. It is also important to do your own preliminary research beforehand, to see which groups would be the best fit for you—in terms of climate, work expectations, and living conditions.
While tree planting tends to be one of the more well-known examples of regenerative travel, there also exists an option for those looking to spend more time in the sea: planting coral. Although this comes with a very different skill set and training approach, taking part in replenishing a reef’s biodiversity is sure to be an experience you’ll never forget! This is also a great option for those that prefer to swim and stay cool while abroad.
With the rise of alternative living and eco-lodges, a variety of programs have been created to help spread the wealth of eco-building methods. While this can be used as an educational tool, it can also become a lucrative career, and inspire a future build for your own home! With that being said, there are also opportunities for travelers looking to live on-site while volunteering and assisting in the construction of an eco-living structure. This is a great option for anyone looking to learn, work with their hands, connect with a community of like-minded people and leave with an entirely new set of skills!
Natural Disaster Relief
This can be an incredibly taxing and fulfilling way to give back to a community after experiencing the ramifications of a natural disaster. While this will not check the boxes of a traditional vacation, it is a beautiful way to help those in need and learn from those that surround you. However, traveling as a volunteer for natural disaster relief will require a flexible schedule and an open mind. And while it may feel enticing to travel across the world to help a community in need… oftentimes, those that can benefit the most from our help are the ones that are the closest to home. Don’t be afraid to stay local and lend a helping hand wherever you can!
On another note, if you’re passionate about science, research and conservation, becoming a research volunteer might be the perfect fit for you! While it’s easy to assume that research is only reserved for those that study in a given field, this simply isn’t true! In fact, a lot of professionals depend on volunteer researchers to help them survey ecosystems and the organisms that live there. This can be done both above and below sea level, though this is a great resource to find marine conservation volunteer opportunities abroad!
Animal Sanctuary & Sustainable Farming
Lastly, for those that have a deep love for animals and gardening, many farmers rent out rooms in exchange for help on their land! This is a great way to develop a green thumb, and connect with animals, while living on the land you’re giving back to!
By: Briahna McTigue