We often talk about the benefits of travel — it’s an opportunity to explore the world, learn about other cultures, meet new people, spark creativity and much, much more. But there’s another, deeper side to the story. Travelers can often have a hugely positive impact on the places they visit, whether they realize it or not.
In a recent study conducted by Hostelworld, nearly half of US citizens said they do not think they have an impact on the communities they visit. However, this same group reports participating in activities that fuel the local economy and enrich the lives of locals. What’s more, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they engage with communities that they have traveled to in some fashion after returning home, whether it be making return visits, encouraging others to travel to the location, keeping in touch with locals or making donations to local charities. Not only are travelers positively impacting the places they visit, they’re often forming lasting, lifelong connections.
The more we travel, the more opportunity we have to positively impact communities around the globe. And in today’s world, travel is more important than ever before.
Take the Trip
If you’ve been thinking about booking a trip, but haven’t taken the plunge, consider this: there are a number of benefits for you and the community you’ve set your sights on. The more you travel the better. That’s because those who travel frequently are most likely to have a positive impact on the places they visit. Power travelers, those who take 10 or more trips per year, are more likely to engage with the people and places they visit in a meaningful way.
Over 92 percent of power travelers make return visits to one or more destinations on a regular basis. In addition, power travelers are most likely to make donations to some or all of the communities they visit and are more likely to participate in community service projects along their journey.
Well known public figures, such as Mark Zuckerberg, have been vocal about the power of travel, encouraging followers to visit new places and to do so more often. Of course, you don’t have to take 10 trips a year to have a positive impact, but the more you’re able to meet the world, the better.
Make it Last
While we often think of travel as a quick getaway or a temporary escape from reality, it’s so much more than that. Just as travel experiences have a lasting impact on the traveler, the traveler often has a lasting impact on the communities they visit. Nearly half of US citizens make return visits to some or all of the communities they visit. What’s more, over 80 percent said they have inspired or encouraged others to travel to that destination and nearly a quarter keep in touch with locals from some or all of the communities they visit.
Travelers often form lifelong connections while traveling. In fact, 36 percent of US citizens said they have made lifelong friendships that they keep in touch with or continue to travel with. It’s time we stop thinking of travel as an escape from reality, when it’s really a means for enriching reality in a lasting and meaningful way.
Feast On, Foodies
There’s good news for food lovers everywhere — feasting on the local fare fuels the economy and supports local businesses. Luckily, travelers are handing over their snorkel gear and foregoing museum tour tickets in favor of foodie focused getaways. The majority - nearly 65 percent of US citizens - said they spend the most money on “accommodations” while traveling, with “restaurants” coming in as a close second. And nearly half spend extra funds dining out while traveling, supporting local restaurants and tasting the local cuisine. Food is quickly becoming the most popular way to experience a new location. So feast on, foodies.
We’re well versed in how travel benefits our health, our careers, our creativity and so on. But how does travel impact the communities we’re visiting and the people that have welcomed us into their home town with open arms? It’s time to embrace travel for ourselves and the world around us. Whether you purchase a trinket from a local vendor or you volunteer your time, you have an impact on the communities you visit and the people you meet along the way.