Why do you travel? Is it to enjoy the satisfaction of tasting new foods, seeing new sights, or experiencing new cultures? If you answered yes to any of these, then you’re probably like most travelers. But let me ask you this: When was the last time you traveled in order to serve someone?
Don’t get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with traveling for the sake of travel. But traveling for the sake of helping someone else can make the experience more memorable and enjoyable. What I’m suggesting is, instead of opening your laptop and googling “best Caribbean cruises” or “top 10 places to see before I die,” consider searching “best humanitarian trips in the world.”
Youth Making A Difference is a humanitarian group based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They take groups of high school students to India on humanitarian projects to help small schools. I went on one of these trips during my senior year of high school. We spent two weeks in India—the first ten days we distributed school and medical supplies, clothing, and playground equipment at rundown schools in the Himalayas; the next four days we spent traveling to destinations including the Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic wonders of the world.
Which part of the trip do you think I remember most? The memories of the pearly white marble walls, the slightly tilted white towers, and the lush gardens of the Taj Mahal simply could never replace the smiles of the school children we met. The members of my group remember the children’s names and the experiences we shared with them though we can’t remember much of what we ate or even the sights we saw.
There are literally thousands of opportunities to travel to a foreign country and participate in humanitarian projects. Interacting with and serving people are some of the best ways to learn their culture and lose yourself in a new world. Isn’t that the point of travel—to get away?
There simply is no better way to get lost in the world and find yourself again than in the service of others. So grab your laptop and discover where you can make a difference. The more remote it is, the better.
I promise you it will be worth it.