Sustainable and responsible travel are more than just buzz words, they’re important ways to enjoy the travel experience while not impacting the destination in a negative way. I’m no eco-warrior though, I tend to instead make decisions that benefit the local community I’m visiting. There are a lot of different ways of giving back, especially when we travel, and here are some of my favorite apps to help us all be do-gooders.
1. Volunteer Match - This app is a great way to find volunteer opportunities wherever you may be. There are more than 60,000 centers from which to choose based on your location. The app finds all available volunteer opportunities near you and gives user reviews, dates, what the center needs and what skill sets are best suited to the experience. You really have no excuses not to volunteer with this handy app.
2. TripSketch Green Book - This is the ultimate in green travel planning, all in one great app. The guide features eco-friendly hotels, attractions, restaurants and tours plus “don’t miss” travel options in over 80 of the world’s greatest destinations. In addition to navigating sustainable travel options, TripSketch also provides travelers with opportunities to give back to the communities they visit. These activities might include shopping at a women’s cooperative, attending a dance show at an orphanage or enjoying a meal at a restaurant where at-risk youth learn life skills. I really like this guide because it’s not “in your face” social activism, the options are mostly very subtle such as green hotels or restaurants that practice farm to table cooking. The guide is also very practical, you just download it before leaving home so the information can be accessed anywhere, regardless of internet connection. Throw in the fact that 20% of all proceeds go to non-profit social and environmental causes and you have a winning mobile app.
3. Instant Wild - I love animals and would like to do more to help them no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Luckily, there’s an app for that. The Zoological Society of London established this app as part of its ongoing program that monitors camera traps around the world. The traps are used to monitor biodiversity, which in itself takes a lot of time. The app features a series of cameras that upload images to the app which in turn allows normal people to watch and help identify the animals shown. The program works on the law of averages, if enough people agree on the identity of an animal, the program accepts it as a correct identification. A low percentage requires scientists to go back and double check, but overall the app saves the Society a lot of time. For the users, the app is pure animal and conservation enjoyment. Leopards, wild dogs and rhinos have all been spotted by the app. This is a great way to enjoy a photo safari while actively contributing to the preservation of these amazing creatures.
4. The Extraordinaires – Want to volunteer but just can’t find the time? Then it’s time to enter the world of mobile micro-volunteering. With this app you can select from a variety of issues of interest that can be worked on whenever and wherever you have some spare time. The app allows you to perform these micro-tasks for organizations that are important to you such as Greenpeace, NASA, the Library of Congress and Haiti relief.
5. Nature Conservancy Magazine - As much as I’d like to think that I’m always altruistic and mindful of the world around me, that’s just not the case. That’s why a little inspiration in the form of the Nature Conservancy Magazine is so great. The Nature Conservancy is one of the leading conservation organizations in the world working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Their magazine is beautiful, inspiring, well written and free. Frankly, with photos like this one how can you not be inspired to both travel the world and aid in its conservation at the same time?