Let’s be honest: when we travel, we do it mostly for ourselves. We travel to get out of our daily rut, to see and experience fascinating things and places, to make new friends, eat good food or just to treat ourselves with something nice. Just imagine you could do all of these things – and contribute to charity at the same time?

There’s always the option to volunteer abroad (read previous posts about this here). However, finding the right time and place to do this can prove to be very difficult, especially if you don’t have more than one or two weeks time on your hands. I dismissed the idea of combining my passion for both community service and travelling long ago, and it wasn’t until I came to university in England that I was able to reconsider this.

IMG_805

RAG, which stands for Raising and Giving, is a concept for student-run charity organizations all over the United Kingdom and Ireland. While RAG societies organize multiple fundraising events throughout the year, the biggest (and by far most popular ones) involve travel. The University of Sheffield’s RAG society, for example, organizes Bummit, an annual charity hitchhike across Europe. Up to 350 students, divided into groups of two or three people, have exactly one week and a £15 travel budget to get to their final destination (last year’s trip went to Budapest in Hungary). In order to participate, you need to register timely and raise the required sponsorship fee, which goes towards charity. Participants typically ask for sponsorships from local businesses, friends and family, although putting on your own fundraiser to cover these costs is also an option.

Another popular concept for charity hitchhikes are so-called Jailbreak trips. University societies challenge participants to get as far away as possible from their starting point in a limited amount of time, without spending any money. A friend of mine at King’s College in London told me the story of his friends who managed to get all the way to Brazil!

Charity hitchikes are definitely an alternative way of travelling – you never know what to expect. If you get lucky and meet someone incredibly generous along the way, you might end up having dinner at someone’s posh townhouse while other participants are spending the night at the local train station. Without doubt, the unpredicability of such a trip will definitely make it an unforgettable one.

If you’re studying in Great Britain, I can only recommend  you find out if your university has it’s own RAG society. Anyone else – why not try and introduce this concept in your country? The more I thought about it, I realized that charity hitchhikes can be organized by any group of people. Perhaps you could try to enthuse the people at your workplace about it – polish up the company image and create a new and improved working atmosphere at the same time. Who knows, maybe you’ll soon hear of some of the Travelettes embarking on a similar kind of trip!

(Also, you may like to read about one Bummit participant’s experiences here).