10 Adventures That Give Back

Make an impact on your next vacation. These treks are packed with tons of fun but they also raise money and awareness for important charities and causes.

Photo By: Huma Charity Challenge

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Photo By: Tatum Preston

Photo By: Boston Marathon

Photo By: HIKE for Mental Health

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Photo By: Make a Wish Foundation

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Walk the Great Wall of China

Australian-based Huma Challenge has fundraising trips to bucket list destinations around the world. One of the most popular trips, The Great Wall of China trek, features parts of the wall just outside Beijing. Travelers stay with local hosts and there’s free time to experience culture and major sights in Beijing such as the Forbidden City. Funds benefit many Australian branches of global charities such as The Red Cross and the World Wildlife Fund.

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Team in Training, the flagship fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, has guided Mount Kilimanjaro adventures throughout the year with Embark Exploration Company. Even if you’re not a pro mountaineer, Kilimanjaro is doable and Embark Exploration Company promises a safe, thrilling and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Journey to the highest point in Africa and make an impact along the way. The funds from these trips support critical research in new areas of immunotherapy.

Raft the Zambezi

UK-based Global Adventure Challenges has some of the most extreme fundraisers, from dogsledding to rafting. Yes, you can go down white water rapids for charity. The Zambezi River challenge, below Victoria Falls, features some of the biggest rapids in the world and offers incredible views along the way. The best part is you choose what charity or cause to support for each challenge. And GAC supports dozens of causes, from Alzheimer's to LGBT rights. GAC has raised more than $19 million in the UK and abroad.

Backpack Machu Picchu

California nonprofit Summit for Stem Cells funds research for an FDA-approved treatment of Parkinson's disease using a patient's own skin cells. Past adventures have included Mount Kilimanjaro, the base camp of Mount Everest and Machu Picchu. Next year’s trek is Spain’s El Camino de Santiago.

Run the Boston Marathon

Unless you’re a professional runner, earning a BQ (runner slang for Boston Marathon qualifying time) and bib for the Boston Marathon is hard. But there’s another way to earn a bib without a qualifying time: run for charity. The Boston Athletics Association gives select charities invitational entries for individual runners. You have to apply to the charity and there is usually a $5,000 fundraising minimum. If it’s your dream to run the oldest marathon in the world, this is a great way to do it and make an impact. Check out the Boston Athletics Association charity page for a list of participating organizations.

Hike the Appalachian Trail

"Share the joy of hiking. Bring hope to those battling mental illness." That’s the mission of nonprofit HIKE for Mental Health. The organization’s sponsored hikes raise funds for scientific research on mental illness, from depression to schizophrenia. You can join registered hikes that include segments of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or you can add your own hike.

Hike for Your Cause

Put your hiking miles to use, even when you’re hiking by yourself or with the dog. HikeFor.com is like Kickstarter but for causes. You create a profile, log your miles and raise money for charities and causes like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. It’s also a great way to meet fellow hikers and join hikes for various causes around the world. Can’t commit to a trip this year? There are hikes registered as far ahead as 2021.

Bike for Your Cause

There are tons of ways to bike for a cause, from centennial rides to triathlons. But it’s hard to give back when biking is so expensive. The frame, the gear, the maintenance. It adds up and edges out a lot of lower income people from the sport. Enter LA-based Bicycle Angels. The nonprofit loans road bikes for use in charity cycling and triathlon events. For free. To date, more than 500 bikes have been loaned and bikers have raised more than one million dollars for charities such as Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Diabetes Society, AIDS Lifecycle, Arthritis Foundation and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Donate Miles to the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Airline travel is the single greatest expense for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and more than 75% of wishes require airfare. Help fly a child to his or her adventure wish by donating your skymiles, even if they’re about to expire. Donated miles to the Make-A-Wish foundation don’t expire once donated. Most major airlines and even regional brands, such as Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines, participate but check out wish.org/miles to see how your miles can help.

Get a Trip, Give a Trip

Luxury tour company Elevate Destinations believes everyone deserves the chance to travel. When you book a trip, a portion of the proceeds funds a chance for disadvantaged youth to see tourist attractions in their own countries. Children in Peru get to see Machu Picchu. Children in Kenya get to see an elephant. These trips give local youth the opportunity to experience sights that travelers around the world come to their country to see.

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