Travel’s way too important not to do it properly. If you’re going to cross oceans, explore the Amazon Rainforest and ride tuk tuks in the name of Adventure, it may as well be responsible adventure: a trip that treads lightly, eats noisily and gives a little something back.
All of our Adventure Challenges are geared around fundraising and responsible travel. It’s kind of our thing. That means that 10% of every dollar we get goes straight back to flagship charity projects and tree-planting campaigns in the countries we visit. The grassroots organisations that can really make a difference in the world.
Since 2009 we’ve teamed up with incredible NGOs and small community groups to raise over USD 75,000, distributed to our various Meaningful Travel initiatives. Not only that, but our plucky adventurers have fundraised an extra USD 50,000 for charities of their choice.
We often say that travel can change the world. Which sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Visiting far away places, putting money in the hands of local communities, learning about other cultures and busting up stereotypes – it’s all possible. You’ve just got to think responsibly.
Our Sustainable Pledge
We solemnly swear to:
- Preserve and conserve our natural resources, flora and fauna.
- Reduce our impact on the environment.
- Promote and preserve cultural heritage with respect and responsibility.
- Develop tourism that improves the lives of the people it touches.
- Make Responsible Travel a force for good in the world.
Our CSEC Pledge
It’s our job, as a responsible travel company to inform and educate everyone we can about the risks of exploiting children in the name of tourism. We’re committed to protecting children and adolescents in the places we travel, and fighting sexual exploitation wherever we find it.
To do that, we’ll engage, support and empower local communities to raise awareness about this issue. And you can help. Pledge your support and read our Responsible Travel guidelines for more info on how you, as a traveller, can fight the sexual exploitation of kids.
Support us! Protect Children against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Tourism.
It’s part of the deal as soon as you click ‘Sign me up. Let’s do this.’ When you book a Large Minority challenge, 10% of your trip price is automatically donated to our flagship projects in the country you’ve picked to visit. And there’s more too. You’ll actually get to stop-in and see these projects on the ground. You’ll meet the kids, learn a bit about the community initiative and understand exactly where your dollars went. Queue the warm and fuzzy feels.
When picking these foundation projects, we put a big emphasis on education. We don’t want to get all Presidential about this, but we really believe the kids are our future. We really think travel can make the world a better place, and to do that we’ve focused our meaningful travel efforts on three main areas: environment, learning resources and leisure activities.
We organise these projects through local public schools (with a helping hand from a few hand-picked local charities and NGOs). The NGO or organisation provides all the logistical stuff, while the beneficiary school handles the ground level prep and the official handing over event. Each project is monitored for 48 months to make sure it’s doing what we want it to do, then the successful models are rolled out in other areas of the country. Simples.
Tree-planting Program and Environment Campaign
A bit of background
Deforestation in developing countries is mostly down to agriculture, growing demand for timber and smaller-scale firewood collection. Obviously, this isn’t great. In fact in places like Sri Lanka the montane evergreen forests are some of the most endangered in the world. To help fight deforestation we have decided to replant native trees with the help of local children. Saving the world, one tree at a time.
How does it work?
This project gets students at a local school actively involved in fighting deforestation. Each student becomes responsible for a few plants on the school grounds, and he or she takes care of those plants and monitors their growth in regular reports. The NGO or organisation provides support and guidance, picking the right plants based on stuff like climate and topography. The idea is to plant useful tress which can also provide medicine, timber, shade and fruit.
- To boost tree cover in the area.
- To increase the food availability for the school.
- To put a stop to illegal encroachment, logging, uncontrolled chopping of fire wood, and hunting. All through awareness programs.
- To build local capacity for natural conservation projects.
English Activity Room and Facility Improvements
A bit of background
Like it or not, the English language can take you places in this world. We tend to take it for granted, but learning conversational English (and beyond) can open doors for kids in developing countries. Only a few schools in developing countries include English as part of the curriculum, and organisations in rural areas often don’t have the resources, facilities or expertise to get the kids up to a good level of proficiency. Rural students need a better environment to learn English properly, and we’re doing our best to make it happen.
How does it work?
The project we’re working on with local schools is setting up a dedicated English Activity room. It’s an area of the school specifically for kids to boost their English skills. They’ll get better teaching from qualified experts, basic equipment like computers, English books, tables and chairs, and there’ll be an increase in student intake in the local area.
- To improve speaking, listening and reading skills.
- To improve knowledge of the English language.
- To create a learning process that’s fun and engaging.
Music and Arts
A bit of background
There’s been a lot of study done on the effect of music on a child’s development, and the results are pretty cool. Music boosts intellectual abilities, social and emotional skills, motor coordination and overall literacy. Not bad, Vanilla Ice, not bad. Music is a part of some curriculums in local schools, but there are rarely enough resources to help kids reach their full potential. Especially in the more rural areas. Lack of government funding means the smaller schools are restricted to occasional music and dancing on festival days, and they often have to borrow equipment or instruments from neighbouring schools. With a bit of outside help, these kids can learn new skills and express themselves through music. Everyone deserves that chance.
How does it work?
The project provides smaller, rural schools with a range of musical instruments and AV equipment. Everything they need to run dedicated music classes and put on performances in the school. The goal is to fuel a bit of interest and passion in the kids, and get them into music from an early age. From what we’ve seen in Western countries, it makes a big difference in a kid’s development.
- To provide a better quality of music and dance education.
- To get kids interested in the learning process.
- To improve music and dancing skills.
Sustainable things we do
- Local Communities – travelling local is better for everyone involved, so wherever we can, we try to eat, stay and travel with local small businesses, not the big tourism chains. We respect our local friends, and pay them fairly for their efforts.
- Environment – we support a bunch of environmental campaigns to raise awareness in local schools. Our travellers get a chance to visit these communities on our trips, to give back, interact with the kids, donate if they wish, and help out with tree-planting projects.
- Cultural Heritage – we do make sure our travellers are educated about local cultures, and respect them at all times. It’s our job as travellers to help preserve and honour these traditions, and we take that responsibility seriously.
- Wildlife – we condemn the mistreatment of animals, and ban exploitative tourism practices on our trips (no elephant-riding here). We also condemn the export, import and abuse of endangered species.
- Recycling and Waste – it’s no longer enough to say ‘I didn’t know’ when it comes to waste management. We know how plastic can damage the environment, which is why we provide our travellers with cloth sacks for trash and other waste during the trip. Plastic and glass bottles are collected separately and recycled after the Challenge is over. Smokers are encouraged to butt-out properly, and we recycle in our offices back home. Green and proud, baby.
- Merchandising – the event bags we hand our travellers are hand-made with local materials and printed with bio-degradable inks (when possible).
- Accommodation – we make sure we source eco-friendly hotels wherever we can, and our campsites are all set up in approved areas.
- Printing – we don’t print in the workplace unless it’s absolutely necessary (seriously, our desks are super clean). When we do print, we only use FSC certified recycled paper. This applies to our brochures, business cards and all other bits of collateral.
- Website Hosting – our website hosting provider powers its servers with using wind. They’ve also got a fancy Renewable Energy Certification.
- Water – it’s thirsty work, adventuring. So we encourage our travellers to minimize their use of plastic water bottles wherever they can and bring along re-useable alternatives (or a purification tablet, if that’s your thing).
Better for the environment
- 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles.
- Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting.
- 90% of the trash in the ocean is from plastic.
- Eighty-six percent of single-use plastic bottles become landfill or litter in the US.
- PET is made from crude oil. PET bottles produce toxic emissions at rates of 100 times that of glass.