When I've traveled to developing countries, I've frequently encountered people who live lives very different from (and less privileged than) my day-to-day existence. Part of the beauty of stepping outside of your own reality to engage with someone else's daily life is that you have the opportunity to connect with people on a personal level--to stop knowing them as people who are poor, or people who live in a foreign country, but to understand them as lovely, kind people with rich, vibrant lives, who sometimes might be living in difficult circumstances.
And sometimes, traveling in a developing country can feel ooky. If you encounter someone who lives in poverty, it can make you feel guilty for being a tourist in their country.
Here's what I'd say to that. Don't underestimate how tourism can help promote peace and stability in developing parts of the world. By traveling to those communities, your travel dollars, and your attention wind up providing jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting cross-cultural awareness. Did you know that tourism is the fourth largest industry in the global economy? Well, it is. And by traveling to a developing country, you're helping those local communities participate in that industry.
As you may know, last month we started a new program called "Huckleberry Travel Gives Back," where we highlight a not-for-profit cause that connects with travel in a way that reflects our values. Last month was fighting climate change by making a donation for bookings to polar destinations in April. For May, we're turning our attention toward economic development.
Kiva is an international nonprofit that connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Kiva supports people, many of whom are in developing countries, who are looking to create a better future for themselves. Kiva facilitates loans of as little as $25 to borrowers who are trying to start or grow a business, who want to go to school, who need to access clean energy or are otherwise trying to realize their potential. When your loan is repaid, you can re-lend those funds to a new applicant. For us, we've found ourselves re-lending to entrepreneurs who are in countries where we've traveled.
100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. But Kiva covers the costs of administering those loans (in part) through donations. We've been lending (and re-lending) to entrepreneurs in developing countries through Kiva for many years, but now we're hoping to give back to Kiva in a different way. For any booking that Huckleberry Travel makes for a client to a destination that is in a developing company during the month of May, Huckleberry Travel will make a $25 donation to Kiva's costs of administration.
Don't get me wrong--you should go make some loans at Kiva, yourself. But just keep in mind that we're helping too.