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What is Meaningful Travel?


An emerging travel trend that combines spiritual, green, experiential travel and voluntourism, “meaningful travel” is an evolving niche in which the traveler is in a position to help the people of the destination through donating money, adopting a cause, volunteering or getting involved, according to travel writer Michael McCarthy.

A good example is Kathmandu, Nepal, where visitors can take part in a program called Setunepal, which helps women in poverty, who are often in prison, learn a trade.

Kathmandu is famous as a destination for mountains trekkers and spiritual seekers for many decades.

While Nepa has beautiful sceneries, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite ending its civil war over a decade ago, the country have been in chaos for decades.  With a backdrop of temples, squares, monasteries and markets, Kathmandu is filled with thousands of beggars, refugees and street children begging for food or money.

Can a traveler make a difference in a place like this?


According to McCarthy, the manager of fabled Kathmandu Guest House (where many trekkers stay), Uttam Phuyal, describes a project that helps the poorest of the poor. “Setunepal is a program to assist women prisoners in Nepal learn a trade. Often these women end up in jail because of poverty and ignorance. One day a tourist staying here at KGH told me she saw a woman and her child begging outside the gates of the prison because she had been released and had nowhere to go. Can you imagine being so poor that you are better off in prison?”

McCarthy writes that travelers “passing through Kathmandu on their way to the Himalayas or other sites can get involved with Setunepal in several ways. There is a halfway house where released prisoners learn trades and where travelers can volunteer skills, time or money, or stay. Donations for food, medicine and training equipment can be sent online. Sponsorship of children is always in demand. Few global travelers ever get a chance to become friends with the destitute under a controlled and supervised situation like this. A few dollars donated to such a cause can change a life, and often that life is the one of the traveler.”

“Nepal, despite its poverty, remains a safe and popular destinations for hundreds of thousands of travelers every year. For those seeking something more meaningful than a walk in the woods or a souvenir shopping expedition, Setunepal is just the ticket.”


via vancouver courier
photo credit: ilkerender

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