Travel Heroes / Travel Heroes Journal

How to be a Travel Hero - Part II: How to find your perfect adventure

Discover your inner Travel Hero

By Casey ONeill

Superheroes wear capes and save the world from supervillains like Lex Luther and Dr Doom. At Columbus Direct we can’t help you to become a superhero but, we’d love to help you to become a different type of hero: a Travel Hero. Travel Heroes use their holidays to save the world from supervillains like poverty, violence and disease. Travel Heroes may not be able to fly but they are just as amazing as superheroes (and they can wear a cape if they want to!)

Charity Challenge vs Volunteer Vacation

One of the first things you need to decide is whether you’d prefer to fundraise on behalf of a charity or, volunteer for a charity directly. 

Fundraising requires significantly more preparation than volunteering. Before the travel begins fundraisers are out in the community convincing friends, family and even strangers to donate. Successful fundraisers start work months before an overseas trip and will regularly dedicate their spare time to organising events like sausage sizzles, bake sales and raffles. A fundraiser for the popular cancer research charity Can Too even threw a Jelly Wrestling party! 

One benefit of fundraising is that - once the fundraising is done - you get to have a traditional adventure holiday experience. It is common to find travel fundraising trips based around common adventure travel activities. Last week for example, a team of fabulous volunteers from Make-A-Wish trekked across a landmark that is on every travel enthusiasts bucket list: the Great Wall of China.

An extroverted and socially active person can find fundraising as enjoyable as the trip itself. For a more introverted person the idea can be daunting. If you lack the time or the inclination to fundraise then a volunteer trip may be more your style.

Travel volunteering holidays are essentially working holidays. This doesn’t mean they can’t be wonderful. Volunteers do more than visit a community – they get the chance to live and work in it. If you are the type of traveller who is more interested in an authentic cultural experience than you are in sightseeing, then a volunteering holiday may be right for you. There are volunteering programmes in hundreds of truly splendid locations – many of which include home-stay style accommodation with local people. A great example of this is VESA. Once a month they take a team of environmentally conscious teens to live and volunteer with families in traditional Fijian villages. 

Choosing your activity

If you’ve decided what type of Travel Hero you want to be, then it’s time to choose your Travel Hero super power! It could be running, climbing, canoeing or cycling. If you’ve chosen to do a volunteer trip then perhaps it will be environmental conservation, specialist work like nursing or engineering, teaching or even administration. 

If you are having trouble deciding on an activity, then adventure fundraising and travel volunteer organisers like Huma and Projects Abroad are great sources of inspiration. If you can’t find something you like, get creative. In 2012 Jimmi Hunt raised awareness for depression by floating the entire 425km length of New Zealand’s Waikato River on an $8 inflatable pool mattress. You can read his story here.

How to make your adventure happen

When it comes to booking a Travel Hero holiday there are three options:

  1. You can sign up for a trip or volunteer program that is run by (or for) a specific cause. Some great examples of this are the Mystery Box Rally which fundraises for Cancer Council or the Act for Kids annual Trek for Kids.

    Charity specific events give participants the opportunity to complete their adventure with a group of people who are working towards the same goal. Cavill Stone of Act for Kids writes “the incredible rapport and comradery built amongst the trekkers has resulted in on-going friendships with all trekkers becoming a part of our Trek for Kids alum.”
  2. You can sign up for an open challenge. Open challenges give travellers the benefit of a team experience but the freedom to choose their own charity. Adventure tourism organisers like Huma Charity Challenge have all sorts of open challenge options available.
  3. You and your friends can go it alone. Going it alone offers ultimate freedom – you get to choose your charity, choose your adventure and choose your destination. The downside of ultimate freedom is ultimate responsibility – travellers going it alone will need to organise everything themselves. If you are uncertain or unexperienced in the activity you wish to complete then an organised and guided tour will likely be your best option. 

Choosing a Charity

For many Travel Heroes choosing a cause to support is easy - they already have a favourite charity or cause that is close to their heart. In November a group of over 60 fundraisers will represent Can Too at the New York Marathon. When asked what motivates people to fundraise for them, Annie Crawford at Can Too explained that

“Over 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their life time. In Australia someone gets diagnosed with cancer every 4 minutes and dies of cancer every 12 minutes.” Share this on Facebook

For those who are unsure or uncertain on who to support the ANAC (Australian Charity Register) is a great place to start. Regardless of how you choose your cause, research is important. Check that you are working with a reputable charity that has a genuine positive impact. You may want to look into

Whether the charity is registered and who they are registered to.  

What the Charities mission statement says.

How active the charity is – you could ask for information about current projects they are working on or about what they have achieved in the last 12 months.  

What do past volunteers and participants have to say about the experience of working with the charity. 

Why not check out the charity profiles on the Travel Heroes site as a starting point? We’ll keep adding new profiles, so stay tuned (or better even: sign up to receive Travel Heroes news).

Coming soon: Part 3 of our series – How to get organised for your Travel Heroes adventure.

Are you planning a travel volunteering or adventure fundraising trip, or have you done one in the past? Then enter the competition for the chance to win $5,000 for your cause or charity, plus $500 travel money*.

Stay posted

Get Travel Heroes news and reminders to keep you up-to-date. We'll make sure you don't miss any new articles or competition deadlines, plus we'll keep you posted on our Travel Heroes contestants and their causes. Click below to enter your details. (We won't share your details with anyone. You can unsubscribe anytime).

*The Travel Heroes competition is only open to Australian and New Zealand residents aged 18 or over. The entry period ends at 10:59am AEDST on 7th November 2016. Limit 1 entry per person & 1 entry per email address. The Travel Heroes Finalist Pack consists of a Turkish Murkish Super Soft Towel and an ecococoon Retro Chic 4 Cup Set. Further terms and conditions apply. View the full Terms and Conditions.

Disclaimer: This microsite is intended to provide general information and entertainment around travel, volunteering and fundraising-related topics. The views expressed on this microsite do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Columbus Direct. We do not endorse any statements made by third parties and do not take responsibility for third party content included on, or linked to from, this microsite. Any third parties mentioned on, or websites linked to from, this microsite should not be viewed as associated with Columbus Direct. None of the information provided on this microsite should be understood as advice or be relied upon for any decisions, particularly medical or financial decisions. The topics covered on this microsite are not necessarily reflective of our products or cover. Always read the PDS before deciding if a travel insurance policy is right for you.

Back to top


Travel Heroes Adventure Fundraising

To get the best experience from this website, please upgrade your browser