There’s never been a better time to redefine what it means to vacation. The downturn in the global economy is our best chance to revolt against the typical, cookie-cutter vacations where we blindly spend, aloof to our effect on the places we visit.

This is the idea behind Mark Wien’s Migrationology.com which questions, “Why vacation when you you can migration?” I pondered my personal migration and came up with this equation:

Vacation + Micro-philanthropy = Migrationology

I’ve realized that Migrationology is where vacation + micro-philanthropy meet. Because of this I wanted to offer Mark, his readers, and you 7 steps whereby you can transform your vacation into a migration. These ideas are powerful because they are small and rewarding steps that all of us can take, despite our destination. Please add to these suggestions and share your experiences by commenting below.

1 Attitude Adjustment – This one is clear after traveling with Mark for a short time. Don’t think of yourself as a tourist, think of yourself as a contributor-an investor. The secret to having a more rewarding vacation is simply to visualize your excursion as not only a getaway for you, but an opportunity to make real, sustainable change occur in smaller, less affluent economies. Ask yourself: How will my money be used in this community after I leave? How can my goals to relax and have fun merge with efforts to improve this community?

2 Educate Yourself – This is the easiest way to make an impact into the communities you enter. What issues plague the places you plan to visit? What are the strengths in these communities? What local initiatives exist? Are they sustainable? This knowledge will help you decide how best to give what you can offer and will serve as an arbitrator when you’re making your travel plans.

3 STOP Conquering – Travelers and tourists as a community have to end this mindset that we can travel to a place in a few days and consider ourselves as having “done” that city/country. This is incredibly naïve and arrogant. Evaluate your trip by different standards. You’ll notice that the most rewarding trips are not those where you moved to divide and conquer, seeing and doing as much as possible. On the contrary, they are the places you dreaded leaving and long to return to. Make sure this factors into how you perceive your migration.

4 Avoid the “lonely planet” mentality – This epidemic is closely related to the above mentioned “divide and conquer” mentality. Don’t fall into this trap. Use guidebooks as you would a guide, not a religious text. Using them loosely will allow them to be the doorway, not the pathway to your migration.

5 Go loco for locals – This is often your most untapped resource. This combined with the research you’ve done and what you know you can expect from your guidebook will lead to an adventure. If you’re doing it right, they’ll be plenty of confusion, ambguity, and laughter. Don’t worry, you’re prepared to manage language barriers and suppress your own cultural norms to really experience the people where you are.

6 Be frugal, not cheap – Being frugal means looking for ways to do things more affordably. This will allow you to devote a greater amount of what you planned to spend to invigorating local economies. When you’re out and about or hanging with the locals, be prepared to recognize ways that you can invest directly into the community. This may mean buying better school supplies or a bicycle to get to school. Everyone’s migration is different.

7 Brag – Tell others and don’t hold back. You’re allowed to embellish a little, but not too much. Mention how your once in a lifetime, never to be duplicated, off the beaten path, life enriching, philanthropic thriller of a migration has changed you and your perception of the world. Post updates on your blog. Submit it to be shared here also. Lets tell the world together.

-Dwight Turner
Editor, In Search of Sanuk

If you enjoyed this aricle please see our guest blog One Thing Leads To Another by expert micro-philanthropist Marc Gold.