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Use the extra room in your suitcase to bring supplies and resources needed in developing countries using Pack for a Purpose

How can you give back when you go away? In this new era of responsible tourism, activities such as school and hospital visits in developing countries, as well as voluntourism, are being exposed as more of a hindrance than a help. Intentions may be good, but it's not the best way to benefit local people.

That's why Wayfairer Travel have chosen to partner with Pack for a Purpose, an organisation that connects travellers with local organisations in over 60 countries. Using the extra space in your suitcase, you can bring and donate much-needed supplies and resources to where it matters most.

What is Pack for a Purpose?

Pack for a Purpose is an initiative that matches travellers with community projects in the destinations they are visiting.

Accommodation suppliers and tour operators update the Pack for a Purpose website regularly with a list of the resources local projects need (often school supplies and toiletries), which travellers can buy in their home country, pack in their suitcase and bring with them on their trip.

Pack for a Purpose's mission is to "Positively impact communities around the world by assisting travellers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit."

How do I use Pack for a Purpose?

Step 1: Select your destination on the Pack for a Purpose website. e.g. Africa > Kenya.

Step 2: Look at the list of accommodation providers and local tour operators. Are you staying at one of these lodges or hotels, or using this tour operator? If yes, select it e.g. Saruni Samburu.

If not, do a little research to see if any are nearby where you are staying (there's a Google map at the bottom of the page that may help you).

Step 3: Once you've selected a partner, you can see details of the project(s) they're involved with, as well as a list of supplies requested e.g. crayons, erasers, handheld pencil sharpeners etc. An asterisk (*) denotes supplies which are urgently needed. 

There is also some guidance on what not to pack on the sidebar, such as sweets (many children in poorer areas don't have access to adequate healthcare, such as a dentist).

Child travellers pack for a purpoe

Step 4: See if you have any of these supplies to spare at home or buy them at a local supermarket or discount store. Then, pack them in your suitcase ready for your trip.

Step 5: Donate the items at the accommodation or office specified (if you're not staying at that accommodation, email ahead to your hotel and where you're planning to donate, to see if an easy arrangement can be made).

Wayfairer Top Tip

I donated to a school project in Costa Rica using Pack for a Purpose and was blown away by how easy the process was. Using the PfaP website for guidance, I brought two bags worth of toiletries and stationary items, and simply dropped them off at reception on arrival at my hotel. I would recommend Pack for a Purpose to any traveller, as it helps tourists give back in a meaningful way and distributes supplies to where they are needed.

Amy Poulton

Content Writer

Interview with Rebecca Rothney, Founder of Pack for a Purpose

We spoke to PfaP founder Rebecca Rothney to learn more about the origins of this powerful initiative, the success story so far and what Pack for a Purpose's hopes are for the future:

1. What is Pack for a Purpose, in your own words?

Pack for a Purpose is an informational website that encourages travellers to pack at least 5 pounds (2.27 kilograms) of requested supplies in their luggage and deliver the items when they arrive at their destination. The website has participants in over 60 countries across the globe, who support more than 400 different community projects.

2. What first inspired Pack for a Purpose?

I founded Pack for a Purpose in 2009. I wanted to create a website that would make it easy for travellers to find the information they need to make a positive impact in the communities they visited.

This desire stemmed from my family’s belief that you should always take a hostess a gift to express your gratitude for a person’s (or in this case, a country’s) hospitality. I also believe that many people are generous and given a simple and effective way, are more than willing to help.

Rebecca Rothney founder of Pack for a Purpose

3. How can travellers get involved with Pack for a Purpose?

You can find everything you need about how to pack and donate on the website, including our Frequently Asked Questions section.

If you're not travelling to a destination or location where community projects are present, consider a monetary donation to the Pack for a Purpose organisation itself, so we can continue to expand and grow.

4. When did you first fall in love with travel?

I took my first overseas trip at age 11 to snorkel with my family in the Bahamas and have never looked back. I have since travelled to 49 countries and all 7 continents.

5. How many projects and people have Pack for Purpose helped since the organisation was set up?

We do not keep those specific statistics. We use the weight of the supplies received by all projects as the metric of our success. Since 2010, Pack for a Purpose travellers have taken over 281,417 pounds (127,917 kilograms) of supplies, meeting essential needs in over 60 countries. 

6. What is the most memorable trip you’ve taken?

Even though it was not possible to Pack for a Purpose there, the most memorable trip I took was a little over 20 years ago when my husband and I got married in Antarctica. He chose this destination because he did not have to be dressed up and the penguins already were!

7. What is Pack for Purpose working on at the moment?

We continue to add new participants and destinations to our website and publish the stories of travellers and communities who benefit from Pack for a Purpose.

8. What are the long-term goals for the future?

We are working on a way to become a truly sustainable organisation. This will require funding, which would allow us to hire two full-time staff members, as we are now currently an all-volunteer organisation.

We hope to find either a philanthropist or company who sees our success and believes in our mission to provide the funds needed to continue our mission for years to come, if not infinity and beyond!

Pack for a Purpose school in Costa Rica

If you're travelling with Wayfairer Travel and you'd like to bring and donate supplies using Pack for a Purpose, let us know and we can help arrange the logistics for you. Contact our team of Luxury Travel Specialists to discuss your next big trip or fill out our no-obligation enquiry form:

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