Volunteering With
The Empty Space of a Suitcase:
What You Can Do as a Traveler

Volunteers are utilising the empty space in their suitcases for doing good.

According to a study, nearly three-quarters (or 72%) of travelers say, “To save the planet for future generations, people need to act now and choose sustainable travel.” The results seem relatively consistent across ages, but nearly three-quarters (74%) of the 46-55 age group most strongly believe in the need for sustainable travel, followed by millennials with 71%.

What can we do for the earth and for the people who live there while we are traveling?

At our destinations, we, as travel lovers, are searching for a certain something which we do not have where we live, such as the interaction with locals and their smiles, or wonderful nature and a local culture which is full of new discoveries.

It may be natural for travel enthusiasts to want to protect the earth so that future generations can experience the same earth for many generations to come.

For people who like such trips, there is an activity for those that  would like to help people who live on this earth which are similarly troubled. It is now possible to help your fellow man, while packing your luggage!

Volunteers to help people in the destination country

Pack for A Purpose is a North Carolina-based non-profit organization that operates a unique project to provide travelers with the supplies they need for community-based projects supported by accommodations around the world. There are facilities and communities around the world that lack needed supplies. However, it takes a lot of money to send supplies via post. Which makes it very difficult to send supplies without requiring additional funds for postage. Thus was created the idea to ask tourists who visit the area and wish to donate and carry school, medical supplies, and other supplies to the communities they visit in their packed luggage.

Pack for A Purpose posts information on the website regarding accommodation facilities around the world, as well as information on things missing in villages and schools near the facilities. It is a mechanism that allows travelers to pack their chosen supplies from the list(s) selected that they would like to donate by packing in an empty space in their luggage, and then drop the supplies at a local affiliated facility in the destination location to make the donation. For example, information on a resort hotel in Jamaica is provided along with information on a donation project to a local school, and interested travelers can take and bring the supplies that the school needs and has requested.

Since its establishment in January 2010, the global travel community has donated more than 165,728 kg of supplies to poor schools, medical clinics and orphanages around the world. Simply adding medical supplies, schools, and other necessary supplies to the luggage has allowed for travelers to make a huge impact on small local communities.

In +60 countries, more than 440 participating properties and travel agencies receive traveller donations which are needed by specific local properties and deliver them to the local communities.

Click here for an interview with founder Rebecca Rossney at National Geographic.

Utilise empty space in luggage

Participation is easy. There are five basic steps:

1. Select your destination on the website

2. Find a project to support with your accommodation or tour company

3. Select the supplies you wish to provide from the specified items that are needed

4. Give the supplies to the local accommodations or tour companies selected from the drop down menus

5. The goods donated are then sent to corresponding community-based projects

Of course, even if the drop point is an accommodation or travel agency, you don’t have to stay at that hotel or sign up for a tour there. It’s just a collection point where the traveller can drop the donation with confidence that the donation will be directed to the proper recipient(s). The donations must be delivered in person, not via courier. It is requested that for questions, please contact the accommodation or travel agency. Especially in developing countries, the postal circumstances may not be certain, so it would be more reliable to send it by yourself.

The amount to bring is reasonable. Pack for a Purpose understands luggage weight restrictions and the need to pack reasonably for a trip. The group recommends an average weight of 2 kg for the donations. There are no weight restrictions, but be prepared to take into account that you will have to carry it to the drop point.

One way of volunteering is to use as little luggage space  as possible for your personal packing when traveling and to help someone in need at the same time. This makes this initiative ideal, as it only utilises the extra space in one’s luggage and a small donation in the purchase. As this donation programme seems to be gaining in popularity, it helps to lessen the burden as each small donation adds up to making a big difference globally.

If you are interested, please give it a try. You can find additional information by clicking here.

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