Lonely Planet Writer

That empty space in your suitcase can be put to use to help communities

If you’re planning a trip away and intending to pack light … then that empty space in your luggage could be put to use helping a charity. Pack for a Purpose is an organisation that pairs travellers with the needs of community projects looking for much-needed supplies.

Travellers can bring items to the communities they visit. Image by Getty

People planning a trip can carry school and art supplies, books, medical items, or even sports equipment. The idea is the brainchild of Rebecca Rothney, who is based in the US state of North Carolina. She told Lonely Planet News: “Pack for a Purpose is a simple, easy and meaningful way for travellers of all ages to express their gratitude to the communities they visit.

“Travellers first choose an item or items from the specific needs list on our website for the community project they wish to help. Then they deliver them to the accommodation or tour company on our website [who are] working with that project.” The items are then moved onto their final destination and Ms Rothney said it was the perfect way to give back to communities. “You can express your gratitude to the places you go with a gift that was requested by a community project there so that you know your gift will be welcome and used,” she said. “Gratitude enhances every experience in life and is always appreciated by the recipient.”

Donations received at a camp in Kenya
Supplies received under the Pack For a Purpose scheme at Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya. Image by: Pack For a Purpose

The organisation has helped hundreds of projects around the world in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.If you like the idea of helping while enjoying your hols, you can visit packforapurpose.org and choose a destination that fits in with your plans.

There are five general areas in which you can offer up your suitcase space: education, health, child welfare, animal welfare, and socioeconomic development. Since 2010, travellers around the world have carried more than 93,000 kilograms of supplies to sixty different countries.