10 Charitable International Trips That Actually Make a Difference

It's not hard to give back to local communities when you travel. Here are 10 life-affirming activities to book during your next vacay.

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December 18, 2019

It feels good to do good, especially when you travel. Whether hopping a plane in search of tropical libations (and not much else) or planning an exotic adventure half a world away, take some time to hunt around for curated, feel-good activities hosted by locals. From reef clean-ups to seal rescues to fieldwork on a game reserve, you may be surprised how easily you can support local causes when you travel, thanks to Airbnb Experiences.

Created and hosted by locals, charitable activities booked through Airbnb Experiences go beyond everyday snorkel trips and segway tours. By way of custom experiences, hosts take great care to immerse visitors in the community and culture of a destination. It's a simple way to do good and learn more about the country you're visiting.

Keep scrolling to see our favorite ways to give back while traveling and book one of these adventures to start off 2020 on the right foot.

Starting at $40/person

The warm, crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean beckon travelers to don a mask and fins in search of magnificent coral reefs teeming with vibrantly colored tropical fish. In Cuba, pair an off-shore snorkeling adventure with a reef clean-up at Bacuranao Beach, a popular destination just 15 minutes by car from Havana. On this half-day Airbnb Experience, snorkeling enthusiasts spend one to two hours admiring the colorful reef and sunken shipwrecks, as well as collecting single-use plastics from the reef before retiring to the shore for a tropical drink.

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Spend the day at Monkey Helpline, a non-profit organization just west of Durban, South Africa that fields more than 1,000 calls each year and cares for 200 rescue monkeys. As part of this small-group Airbnb Experience, travelers will join a team that rescues, seeks veterinary care and assists in treatment and feeding of vervet monkeys. The goal is to rehabilitate and release monkeys back out into their home environment. Monkey Helpline rarely conducts fewer than three rescues a day, so this is sure to be an exhilarating volunteer experience.

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Costa Rica is well-known for its booming sea turtle population, including olive ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles. On this three-day Airbnb Experience, travelers work alongside researchers at Pacuare, a remote field station on the Caribbean coast that's accessible only by boat. Teams patrol the beaches, record biometric data from sea turtles and collect eggs to take to the safe hatchery to protect turtles from poaching and beach erosion. On this social impact trip, 100 percent of fees go to the Latin American Sea Turtles Association.

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Starting at $103/person

In Indonesia, travelers can put in a full day's work helping to rebuild schools on Sumba, an island near Bali. On this Airbnb Experience, travelers may transport bricks or flatten ground surfaces if the school is in the early stages of construction. Alternatively, travelers may find themselves painting classrooms or murals at schools near completion. On this social impact experience, 100 percent of fees go to Happy Hearts Indonesia, the non-profit spearheading efforts to rebuild local schools.

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Starting at $58/person

Do your part to rehabilitate seals in Ireland with Seal Rescue Ireland, which is located just two hours south of Dublin. On this three-hour Airbnb Experience, you'll meet the adorable seals in the care of the rescue group, as well as help with daily tasks, like feeding the seals and cleaning the pools. Help nurse the sick, injured and orphaned seal pups back to health. You can even adopt seals at the facility (symbolically, at least). You'll receive an adoption certificate, their rescue story, photos and regular seal "pupdates."

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Starting at $22/person

In Mexico City, travelers can learn about the challenges and vulnerabilities of a population burned by food insecurity. As in, they don't always know when or where they will have their next meal. On this half-day Airbnb Experience, travelers tour the food bank run by local non-profit, Alimento Para Todos, then work to sort food (and toss out those not worthy of consumption) and package them for the needy. The experience concludes with a traditional Mexican meal served in the food bank's dining facilities.

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Starting at $18/person

Plan to get dirty as you learn the ins and outs of organic farming — a method of farming that does not rely on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers — on a Himalayan farm in North India. On this half-day Airbnb Experience, travelers may prepare fields, plant seeds, clear out weeds or harvest crops, depending on the season. Be prepared to take home skills you can apply to your own garden, whether on a terrace or in your backyard.

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Starting at $37/person

The honey bee population has declined by 90 percent in the last 60 years, but you can do your part to bring back the bees with a professional beekeeper in Greece. On this three-hour Airbnb Experience in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, travelers learn all about bee life and their importance to human life, maybe giving participants a whole new respect for the much-maligned honey bee. You'll also create bee salve and sample herbal tea from the garden, presumably with a spoonful of honey.

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Starting at $57/person

Rome wasn't built in a day and like most uber-popular tourist cities it probably can't be cleaned up in a day either. However, thanks to this two-hour Airbnb Experience, travelers in town to see the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and St. Peter's Basilica can help pick up trash in the piazzas while savoring grand views of ancient ruins and cathedrals. Enjoy a celebratory glass of wine when the clean-up is complete. Leaving the city a cleaner place than when you arrived is a wonderful way to thank the people of Rome for their hospitality.

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Starting at $1,342/person

Game viewing and safaris are ever-popular in South Africa, but this seven-day Airbnb Experience puts a new twist on safari by incorporating fieldwork alongside scientists and conservationists. Travelers help with game counts, anti-poaching initiatives, predator research and vegetation monitoring to help ensure the health of the ecosystem and game reserve. An awareness component educates travelers on conservation efforts and challenges, helping to develop ambassadors eager to spread the word when they return home.

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