5 Ways You Can Help Fight Poverty Through Travel

As world travelers you can create a positive impact in combatting global poverty.  Just by doing what you love, you can alter the lives of those in need, often by making slight changes to how you vacation.   Would you like to learn how to make a difference?  If so, please see my 6 ways you can help flight poverty through travel.

6 Ways You Can Help Fight Poverty Through Travel

Fight Poverty Through Travel. This woman in Kom Ombo, Egypt looks surprised at my surreptitious photo. Many times I'll pay locals around $1 USD if they allow me to take their photo. This also stimulates the economy.
Fight Poverty Through Travel. This woman in Kom Ombo, Egypt looks surprised by my surreptitious photo. Many times I’ll pay locals around $1 USD if they allow me to snap their picture. This also stimulates the economy.

 

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1 – Know The Statistics

Global poverty affects 80% of the world’s population.  These penniless make less than $10 USD a day.  Even more shocking, over 50% of the planet lives on only $2.50 USD a day. That’s 3 billion starving people!  

A majority of these destitute live in areas where the income gap is widening.  That means poverty is getting worse!  Notably, worldwide the poorest 40% account for only 5% of total global income. 

Unfortunately many of these indigent are children.  In fact, according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty   But the good news is you can help to change those numbers just by wayfaring!

 

Fight Poverty Through Travel.  Man walking on the highway between Fes and Chefchaouen, Morocco. Were you aware that close to half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from health problems caused by water and sanitation deficits?
Fight Poverty Through Travel.  Man walking on the highway between Fes and Chefchaouen, Morocco. Were you aware that close to half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from health problems caused by water and sanitation deficits?

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2 – Make a Difference Just By Traveling

Your tourist dollar helps stimulate the local economy of arguably every location you visit.  Whether you are in Pakistan or Peru, most every bill you spend eventually trickles down, at least in part, to those in need.  Even if you reside in a luxury hotel, the workers at that establishment depend on your lodging to help pay their salaries.  Over time that paycheck will be distributed around town in the form of purchases, transferring hands many times. 

Of course the more remote the place, the more impact your contribution makes.  If you visit countries with poorer populations your presence can be felt much more widespread.  

 

Poverty in Egypt. Tourism is Egypt's number one foreign currency earner, accounting for 10% of Egypt's GDP.
Poverty in Egypt. Egypitan making his way to the market in Kom Ombo.  Tourism is Egypt’s number one foreign currency earner, accounting for 10% of Egypt’s GDP.
 

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3 – Visit Less Traveled Locations

Without a doubt the economies in many countries depend on tourism. The influx of capital from visitors helps fund schools and other necessary facets.  Now consider that some countries see far fewer tourist dollars than others.  This means they usually have less assets to spend on the poor in their countries.

Therefore, why not focus some of your trips to less traveled  locations?  They are no less thrilling and enchanting.  In fact, the more remote regions are often more authentic and exciting. 

Furthermore poverty in isolated areas tends to be more widespread.  As a result, your tourist dollars can effect change much more drastically.   And on a recent trip to Egypt we witnessed that result first hand.

The horse and buggy driver we hired in Aswan, Egypt took us to his home.  There we saw impoverishment up close.  His entire home was made of mud with no indoor furniture and no plumbing.  Most notably his daughter rested on wooden planks with casts on both legs, a result of malnutrition. 

Since the 2011 Arab Spring decimated tourism in Egypt, this driver has truly struggled.  With no foreigners there has been little money for food.  At least our patronage that day helped provide some relief.  Additionally, we tossed a few more bills his way as a donation. It’s the least we could have done.

 

Fight Poverty Through Travel. These horse and buggy drivers in Kom Ombo, Egypt drove us to the local market where we interacted with the amazingly interesting and fascinating Egyptians.
Fight Poverty Through Travel. These horse and buggy drivers in Kom Ombo, Egypt drove us to the local market where we interacted with the amazingly interesting and fascinating Egyptians.

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4 – Use Local Vendors When Possible

The more you focus on favoring mom and pop type businesses, the more you help to ensure those proceeds stay within the local community.  This is because those small business owners are much more likely to spend close to home, rather than taking their profits elsewhere.  So hire the local guide.  Visit the neighborhood restaurants.  

For example, in Lebanon we befriended an Uber driver who then became our personal driver and tour guide for the next few days.  He provided us with a personalized excursion through Lebanon while adding local insight.  Rather than pay a large tour company, we spent our money locally.  Hopefully our driver will invest some of those proceeds by making purchases near home, thus helping to stimulate the local economy.

 

Fight Poverty Through Travel. Egyptians doing their local shopping in Kom Ombo. In 2016 Russia banned fruit and vegetable imports from Egypt. In 2015 44% of all of Egypts exports were fruits and vegetables, primarily potatoes.
Fight Poverty Through Travel. Egyptians doing their local shopping in Kom Ombo. In 2015, 44% of all of Egypt’s exports were fruits and vegetables, primarily potatoes.  Then in 2016 Russia banned fruit and vegetable imports from Egypt, further contributing to Egypt’s suffering economy.

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5 – Give Money to the Locals

There are some situations where donating money merits your consideration.  Examine the relative poverty of a location, and try to find the people who need it most.  Obviously use your best judgement in discovering those who will put the cash towards good use.

For example, I distinctly remember an elderly, indigent and indigenous woman begging for coins on the streets of San Cristobal, Mexico.  After passing her by, I felt the pull of my conscious.  So I turned around, walked back and put some bills in her basket.  What better way to donate to the poor than by giving it to them directly?  Often you can determine who needs money the most and who will actually benefit from your generosity.  

Fight Poverty Through Travel. Female vendor at the medina in Casablanca. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Fight Poverty Through Travel. Female vendor at the medina in Casablanca. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

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6 – Promote Travel to Your Friends and Family

Encourage your friends and family to visit the places you’ve been.  The more you promote a given area, the more likely other travelers will spend their money in these locations.  This strategy is especially effective if you visit off the beaten path destinations not typically visited by tours.

Personally I’m driven to promote world travel, focusing on less traveled to destinations.  When I return home from trips I regale the beauty and intrigue of the fascinating places I’ve been.  Hopefully in time I can encourage others to visit.  Perhaps over time the wonderful people I’ve met in foreign lands will benefit directly from my marketing.

 

Fight Poverty Through Travel.  Gentleman at the market in Kom Ombo, Egypt.  Did you know nearly 1 billion people cannot write their names or read a book.
Fight Poverty Through Travel.  Gentleman at the market in Kom Ombo, Egypt.  Did you know nearly 1 billion people cannot write their names or read a book?

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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