Tips for having a positive social impact on your next vacation

If there’s one thing we know about our Kiva lenders, it’s that they care about people around the globe and love traveling the world! That mindset plays perfectly into a growing trend in the travel industry called “social impact travel.” This new approach to traveling values exploring local cultures while contributing to local economies and preserving the natural environment. 

While some people book social impact vacations with certain companies or nonprofits, making a positive social impact on your next vacation doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive! Here are some easy tips for having a positive impact on your next trip. And these practices aren’t restricted to international travel. Keep them in mind whenever you’re exploring a new place, even in your own country!

It's important to understand and respect the cultures you're traveling in. Photo by Pete Johnson.

Respect the culture 

  • Learn some of the local language beforehand. Even a few phrases will help you get around, impress the locals and show respect for their culture 

  • Do your research. Learning about the culture before you go can avoid any awkward situations with unusual local customs

  • Take a cooking class, visit a local crafts center or browse local art! 

  • Get off the beaten track - visit less well-known places and explore regions unknown to typical tourism

  • Be adventurous and try new foods at local restaurants

Look for ways to patronize local businesses and support the local economy. Photo by Erik Scheel

Support the local economy 

  • Stay with locals for an authentic experience - find a homestay or AirBnB

  • When possible, support family-owned local businesses that employ local people rather than large international companies

  • Hire a local guide! After all, they know their home country better than anyone

  • Visit fair-trade plantations such as coffee, tea, or chocolate!

  • Travel during the off-season: cyclical vacation trends make it difficult for locals to subsist on sporadic incomes. Besides, it’s cheaper and less crowded!

Minimize your environmental impact and support conservationist efforts. Photo by Pixabay

Protect the environment 

  • Bring a refillable water bottle and a water filter so you don’t have to waste plastic. Besides, it’s cheaper too.
  • Visit national parks - your entry fees contribute to preserving nature
  • Eat vegetarian on your trip, or make sure your meat is sourced ethically and locally
  • Don’t buy souvenirs made of endangered plants or animals (we’re lookin' at you, ivory!)
  • Minimize your carbon emissions and pollution: try to book direct flights and keep domestic flights at a minimum
  • Ensure that tour companies have good animal treatment practices - especially if the tour involves interacting with animals 


Make sure to keep these in mind whenever you travel, and join the growing global community that values making a positive impact on the world. 


About the author

Channing Fisher.

Channing first witnessed the ability of entrepreneurship to empower people while studying Spanish in Guatemala. Throughout college, she became interested in microfinance while working in business development in the Netherlands and studying the effects of tourism on Caribbean economies. After graduating from Principia College in 2018 with degrees in Political Science and Business, she began work for a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit and later found Kiva. She's passionate about communicating and sharing the work done at Kiva and elsewhere in the international development space.