Tag Archives: Ethical Living

Being a Responsible Traveller: Gift Giving Abroad

As part of our commitment to responsible travel we ask that the participants of our adventures do not give gifts to the communities that they visit, or to the individuals they encounter.

We know what you’re thinking…why? What’s wrong with giving a small gift?

The act of gift giving and donating is a tricky one. It’s a universal practice not bounded by barriers of language or culture so we assume it is a great way to show our appreciation or to help someone in need. But even the most well-intended gifts or donations present some complex issues. These include donating to beggars or those living on the street, giving to children and making donations directly to the communities you may visit.

This is because gift-giving can:

  • Entice children and their families to beg when they should be receiving an education or seeking work.
  • Encourage an unreliable dependence on tourism.
  • Create tension if there is an uneven distribution of gifts within a community.
  • May cause cultural misunderstandings that all visitors give gifts.

You might think you are helping someone in need but sadly, these kind of small gifts rarely result in any significant improvement in these people’s lives. We want to make sure we are doing our best to be socially responsible – both as travellers and as global citizens.  

If you are thinking about gift giving on your adventure, consider these things first;

Consider your motives.

For what reason are you giving? Travelling to less-developed countries can be a confronting experience, especially if you haven’t travelled to regions like it before. The short amount of happiness afforded by giving a gift does not erase the potentially harmful consequences.

It’s okay to give to people who provide a service for you.

Tipping is a common practice all over the world and is an appropriate way to show your appreciation and to give back to the local community. For example, this might include gifting your unwanted clothing or trekking equipment to porters and guides. We also suggest combining tips as a group to ensure they are more evenly distributed.

Give donations directly to community leaders.

It’s more appropriate for any goods to be distributed by locals, rather than by tourists. Once again, this helps to make sure they are distributed fairly. This might be the case if local communities request resources such as pens or books for schools.

Make a donation to a reputable NGO or foundation.

The best way to responsibly donate or gift give is via a reputable source who can assist in the sustainable distribution of your donation. They will consider the broader impact of your donation in order to empower local communities in the long-run.

Discuss any concerns with your local guide.

If at any point you have concerns about giving gifts, discuss it with your local guide. They will be able to give you the advice you need to give back to the local community in the most ethical way possible.

Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!

Interview with Justine: 15 years of Inspired

I sat down with Justine, the driving force behind Inspired, to have a look back at what she’s achieved since we opened our doors fifteen years ago. Had the pleasure of discussing her outlook on the growing popularity of ethical travel, her desire to create a company for social good & the bright future of Inspired Adventures

So Justine, have you always been impacted by companies preaching social good?

When I was about 14 I remember going into town with my Mum and seeing The Body Shop for the first time. I’d never seen anything like it before. I loved the fact that they were talking about community trade, ethically sourced ingredients, recycling the plastic bottles – and this is mid 80s. Anita Roddick was at the forefront of this movement, they were discussing women’s issues, no cosmetic testing on animals. It really struck a chord with me.

How does Inspired's adventures impact the lives of the participants?

It is often declaring that you’re going to do something out of your comfort zone; a fundraising challenge requires a lot of preparation and the confidence to go away with people you don’t know and actually completing that is quite transformational. It  can often make a difference in how they live their lives thereafter as they suddenly know themselves to be a bit of a local hero. It is the concept of ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

15 years of incredible work - What is there to celebrate?

We’ve raised – and counting – about $33 million dollars. I think it’s really wonderful to imagine the impact of that money and what it can and has achieved.

For example: We’ve funded a Kids Helpline counsellor on the phone for an entire year.


We funded a piece of video equipment for rural hospitals so they could video conference in with bigger Children’s hospitals in the cities and help pioneer life-saving operations for kids.”

“It’s hard to comprehend what we’ve actually raised.  I say to the team often that it is the butterfly effect of that money that is often quite extraordinary.

Equally worth celebrating is the people are the 6,000 or more who have been on our adventures & the amazing people who sign up to; pledge a minimum amount, spend a year fundraising and getting fit & healthy, going to join a group of strangers and go somewhere in Australia or International, probably somewhere I’ve never been to trek, cycle or run a marathon and put myself out there.  It changes lives. For that year or so it gives people a goal and gives their lives meaning.


As a society the idea of sustainable and socially conscious travel is becoming increasingly popular and supported by the masses - Why do you feel that society is coming round to this phenomenon?

It’s very exciting that we finally are. It’s come an incredibly long way in the last 10 years. For many people it starts with diet and nutrition – avoiding processed foods and eating clean – thinking about different ways of approaching diet. Starting from the ground with not shopping at your local supermarket with plastic bags – making a commitment to the environment at home, one that is very manageable and achievable for us all to begin. It’s a natural progression for people to think about how they travel.

There’s been a real increase in smaller, niche, boutique travel agencies that really have a focus on ethical, sustainable & responsible travel practices. I think it’s become a lot more accessible and as the popularity increases it becomes a lot easier to travel that way. Following the sentiments of “Leave only Footprints”.

I’m really pleased the world is wising up, it seems a natural shift between how we live our lives and how we want to see & travel the world. As a parent as well it’s wonderful to be a good example to kids. Provide those insights and environmentally responsible practices, community education done in a really responsible way and keep educating the next generation.

What do you see as being the future of Inspired?

Creating extraordinary travel and fundraising for the younger generation.We’d like to place a focus on Australian travel, exploring our own backyard. We have an extraordinarily diverse and wonderful country with a lot to learn about the community and our history. Equally growing our New Zealand operation, which is exciting, and looking further afield. Working with other charities in the Asia-Pacific region and constantly look into new destinations & itineraries such as those this year to Costa Rica & Japan.

We’re running lots of Corporate adventures so that’s a wonderful opportunity for development too. It’s important that team-building and Leadership development for staff and inter-company relations to aid Corporates in being better global citizens and having an awareness of responsible travel & ethical practices.

What would you say to inspire other women who look up to you and have similar dreams?

Never give up!

Follow your instincts and listen to your heart, whatever feels right. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Stay very true to yourself and find time to connect with the inner you – your creativity and your passion.

We as women are incredibly creative and passionate. There’s an opportunity to constantly be listening, looking and exploring. Tap into that inner-goddess.

Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!

Take a stance against one of the cruelest trades in the world

*Just to let you know, this article contains images that might upset some readers

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘dog’? Man’s best friend? Insanely loveable and cute fluff balls? Family? What about … food? Probably not. In fact, thinking about dogs as food might make you feel queasy or upset. Here in Australia and in most countries, we would never ever think about eating Fido. Yet in a lot of Asian countries, dog meat is readily available and consumed. The worst part? The conditions under which the dogs are transported and slaughtered are completely barbaric and inhumane. Every year tens of thousands of dogs are inhumanely transported from Thailand to neighbouring countries, and many die from suffocation before they get there. Unfortunately, these are the lucky ones. The dogs that are still alive are not humanely killed and are often tortured for hours before being skinned alive. It’s believed the pain inflicted on the dogs leads to a more tender cut of meat.

Since it’s acceptable to eat meat in many Asian countries, the dog meat trade lives on. But what also perpetuates this cruel trade is tourism. Traveling abroad is a time for experimenting, especially with food. When in Ireland, you eat haggis. When in Australia, you eat a meat pie. When in Spain, you eat chorizo. When in Asia? A lot of people eat dogs. This has to stop. More often than not, tourists don’t realise the sheer horror and cruelty that takes place in order to get that dog meat on their plate.

The dog meat trade is vicious and inhumane and we won’t stand for it. So now that you know…what can you do about it?

Spread the word!

Start by sharing this story. Tell your parents, tell your friends, tell your aunt and tell the postman. Keep spreading the word about how horrific the dog meat trade is and ensure tourists do not eat or try dog meat when they’re in Asia.

soi dog 1

Donate / sponsor a dog

Incredible not-for-profits (including our charity partner Soi Dog) are working tirelessly on the ground to rescue dogs and cats who are victims of the dog meat trade. Soi Dog was created with a mission to humanely reduce the stray population of animals through a programme of mass sterilisation, to provide medical treatment for the sick and injured, and to shelter and adopt; all being humane welfare options the animals had never had access to before. Through foundations like Soi Dog, you are able to sponsor a dog or cat, which pays for their urgent treatment and care until they are ready to be adopted.

Our other amazing charity partner Animals Asia  are also working hard to end the dog meat trade. You can donate to help their plight here.

Humane Society International are also working with local organisations in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and China to raise awareness of the horrible dog meat trade flourishing in these countries.  They participate in raids on trucks crammed with dogs headed for slaughter as well as provide funding to train officials to improve the enforcement of laws and support care for animals. Check out their work and donate here.

“My name is Sylvestor and my story begins when I was grabbed from the street and crushed into a cage with many other dogs. We were then driven away on a truck to cross the Thai border. I could not understand why I was in this cage and why these people were doing this to me. I was terrified and so were all the other dogs crushed into the cages.

I could hear the younger dogs crying with fear as we travelled through the night, the older dogs unable to cope with the stress and heat during the day. Many died as we drove towards the border – I was beginning to give up too.

I awoke to the rattling of cages and the truck stopping abruptly. All the cages were taken off and we were released and put into a big truck and taken to a shelter in northern Thailand. This is where I live now with so many other other rescued dogs.”


Adopt a dog

The rescued dogs and cats at Soi Dog are often put up for adoption once they have been properly healed. Giving these animals a loving home and effectually providing Soi Dog with more resources to take in more dogs and cats is one of the best things you can do. In Australia, it’s quite difficult and very expensive to adopt the dogs and cats from Soi Dog, mainly due to our strict quarantine laws. However, adopting from the UK, US, Canada and Europe is easier and cheaper.

soi dog

Volunteer your time

If you’re ever in Phuket, Thailand, consider visiting the Soi Dog shelter. The main role of volunteers is to socialise and walk the dogs, and socialise the cats and puppies. Many of the animals Soi Dog rescues are afraid of humans due to the brutal treatment they received before being rescued, so for the dogs and cats to be adopted, they need to be taught how to trust people. Soi Dog recommend that volunteers spend a month or longer at the shelter because it enables the formation of a closer relationship with the animals. You can also volunteer by giving tours of the shelter and talking with visitors.

There’s also the not-for-profit Last Chance for Animals (LCA) who are dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations, legislation, and media attention. Check out their amazing work here.

soi dog 3
soi dog 2

A big thanks to our friends at the Soi Dog Foundation for supplying the pictures. 

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The Most Ethical Places to Visit in 2016

2016 is well underway and by now you’re probably already dreaming of your next holiday. We’re with you; we can’t wait for our next adventure either! Now the question remains: where should you go? You’ve probably done the research, and found that some of the hot picks for this year include Japan, USA, Greenland and good old Australia! And whilst we think all of these places offer unique and wonderful cultural experiences, our choices for this year are a little different.

This year, we’re feeling drawn to destinations that are doing ‘good’ for the globe. We’ve found places that are doing everything in their power to promote human rights, preserve the environment and support social welfare for their country and its people.

Every year, Ethical Traveler review the policies and practices of nations in the developing world. They then choose the top ten that are living the most ethically, all while creating a lively and exciting tourism industry. We’re totally on board!

As Ethical Traveler reminds us no country is perfect. All of the top 10 countries listed have their shortcomings, yet are making an effort to do the right thing in the areas they take into consideration.

So here are the 2016 Ten Best Ethical Destinations (listed alphabetically). We urge you to consider them when planning your next big adventure!

Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde is a stunning nation that sits on a volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s famous for its variety of inspiring beaches and shipwrecks you can dive amongst.

What to see:

Mt Fogo
Mt Fogo, Cabo Verde’s highest peak, rises out of an ancient crater known as Chã das Caldeiras. The volcano is still active, with its last eruption occurring in 1995, yet you can still climb it!

Pont d’Agua
A little slice of paradise, Pont d’Agua is lined with palm trees and swanky restaurants. If you’re after a kind of South of France feel, then this is the place to be!

Global goodness: 

Cabo Verde is also on a mission to get half of their energy from renewable resources, whilst doing a lot of work to protect the endangered animals on their shores. They’re also one of the most gender equal African nations.


If you want to escape the masses, check out Dominica. There are so many amazing things to do here including trekking to hot sulphur springs, swimming up a narrow gorge, visiting cascading waterfalls and more.

What to see:

Boiling Lake and Trafalgar Falls
Dominica’s most famous spring is a volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake within Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The preserve features rainforests, sulphur vents, the twin waterfalls of Trafalgar Falls and narrow Titou Gorge. Further over to the west is Dominica’s capital, Roseau, with colourful timber houses and botanic gardens.

Globe goodness: 

Dominica has the best access to healthcare of any other Caribbean nation, as well as top-notch political and civil rights.


Grenada is a Caribbean country covering a main island, also called Grenada, and 6 smaller surrounding islands. Dubbed the “Spice Isle,” the hilly main island is home to numerous nutmeg plantations.

What to see:

Nutmeg Processing Cooperative

As you wander around town, the smell of nutmeg is never far away, especially when you visit the Nutmeg Processing Cooperative. This large nutmeg processing station is an enormous shop where nutmeg is sorted. Racks are covered with a huge amount of fruit from trees that descended from the first nutmeg plants planted in Grenada by the British in 1843.

Pingouin Beach
Once your nose tires of too much nutmeg, an escape to Pingouin Beach is just what you need. Known for its powdery white sands and warm tanzanite waters, Pingouin Beach is a little slice of heaven (and not to mention a great place to snorkel!)

Global goodness: 

A major country in the fight to stop climate change, Grenada is doing a lot of work to protect their coral reefs. It has also taken steps towards providing equal rights for the LGBT community.

Micronesia (Federated States)

Micronesia is a sub-region of Oceania and features many small islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

What to see:

Nan Madol
Off the shores of a tiny island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean are the ruins of an ancient civilization. The remains of Nan Madol are the only standing monuments of a civilization built entirely over open water, on a coral reef. It’s pretty awe-inspiring!

Ethnic Art Village
Micornesia does a fabulous job of celebrating and preserving indigenous art. At the Ethnic Art Village in Yap, the village elders teach their craftsmanship and techniques to younger artists.

Global goodness: 

It has a shared cultural history with Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south. Micronesia is working towards 30 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and are also forming a lot of protected areas on their islands.


Travellers often overlook Mongolia, known for its rugged landscapes and nomadic dwelling. Once the heartland of an empire stretching to Europe under Genghis Khan, Mongolia is a landlocked country featuring sporadically populated grassland and desert.

What to see:

Chinggis Khaan (Sükhbaatar) Square
Chinggis Khaan Square is the city centre of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Peaceful anti-communism protests were held here in 1990, which ushered in the era of democracy. Today, the square is occasionally used for rallies, ceremonies and festivals, but is generally a relaxed place where locals and tourists alike come to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Choijin Lama Temple Museum
If you’re after history and culture, look no further than downtown Ulaanbaatar where you will find Choijin Lama Temple Museum. This gem of architecture and history was home to Luvsan Haidav Choijin Lama, the state oracle.

Global goodness:

Mongolia has the lowest number of unemployed civilians on the list, and is also the best at providing end of life-care for its people.


From beautiful crystal seas to the coffee farms and cloud forests of Chiriquí, Panama is a place you can relax or seek adventure. From trekking through stunning rainforests to sailing between unspoiled tropical islands, Panama will inspire a sense of wonder in anyone who visits.

What to see:

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo
For some local and authentic art, check out Museo de Arte Contemporáneo. This privately owned museum features the grandest collection of Panamanian art, as well as the occasional exhibition by a foreign artist.

Nivida Bat Cave
If you can handle some scare factor, why not take a visit to the Nivida Bat Cave? This natural wonder is a massive cavern that is swarming with nectar bats. For the braver souls, you might even like to take a dip in the subterranean lake whilst you’re there.

Global goodness:

Panama have also gone to great lengths to restore their rainforest and promote sustainability. Panama has approved conventions on ending child labour (amazing!) and has also banned dog fighting and greyhound racing.


From the insane surfing, to the arts, culture and lip-smacking cuisine, Samoa isn’t known as the Treasured Islands of the South Pacific for nada!

What to see:

To Sua Ocean Trench

You know those overly-instagrammed cavernous lagoons that look so inviting but also a little bit terrifying at the same time? The Sua Ocean Trench is just that, and while it’s not so much a trench as two sinkhole-like depressions, it is certainly enchanting.

Lava Fields
When Samoa’s Mt Matavanu erupted between 1905 and 1991, it created a moonscape in Savai’i’s northeastern corner as lava moved through plantations and villages. There are many fascinating sites you can visit that were ruined by the lava, including several churches.

Global goodness:

Samoa plans to rely on 100% renewable energy sources by 2016. They’ve also taken big steps towards ending domestic violence and monitoring the human rights of women, children and civilians with disabilities.


Tonga sits just east of the international dateline, so it’s said by many locals that Tonga is ‘the place where time begins.’

What to see:

Mapu’a ‘a Vaca Blowholes
When the weather is just right at Mapu’a ‘a Vaca, you might be lucky enough to experience hundreds of blowholes spurting at once. Your best bet for the ultimate show is going on a windy day when the swell is strong.

For some archaeological history, Mu’a is the place you want to visit. It contains the deepest concentration of archaeological relics in Tonga. There are 28 royal stone tombs in the area, which were built with enormous limestone slabs carried by canoes.

Global goodness:

This sun-drenched country topped the list in terms of environmental protection. They are doing a lot of work when it comes to fighting climate change.


The tiny isles of Tuvalu paint the perfect picture as you approach from the air, however, this independent island nation is under threat by rising sea levels. Surrounded by a fringe of coconut palms, these tiny islets are barely higher than the sea. Tuvalu is now part of the Vulnerable 20 group, which aims to put pressure on the rest of the world to start taking steps to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

What to see

Funafuti Marine Conservation Area
The Funafuti Marine Conservation covers 33 sq km of reef, lagoons and island habitats. Here you can snorkel, trek, and partake in some picnicking or bird watching!

Nanumea Atoll
Nanumea Atoll is one of Tuvalu’s most gorgeous islands, featuring a fresh-water pond and a church, and makes for a great day visit. Interestingly, the only way to reach the island is by a government supply ship!

Global goodness:

The Funafuti Marine Conservation area is working towards a more ecologically sustainable future as no fishing, hunting or gathering is allowed on these five isles.


Uruguay is slowly but surely gaining a name for itself after living in the shadow of its neighbours Brazil and Argentina. If you’re searching for something a little less than touristy, Uruguay will offer you a whole lot of local culture and more.

What to see:

Punta del Diablo
For a truly local experience, Punta del Diablo is the place to head. It’s the prime summer getaway fro Uruguayans and Argentines with its laid-back lifestyle and beautiful beaches.

Centro de Tortugas Marinas
The Centre for Marine Turtles is a great place for all your turtle-y needs! They provide information on where you can spot these green beauties and they also run a volunteer program that educates visitors on environmental factors that are threatening the turtles and their homes.

Global Goodness: 

Uruguay ranks the highest in regards to social welfare with a long life expectancy, a great education system and a solid standard of living.


( * = also appeared on the 2015 list).

Feeling inspired?

Visit the Inspired Adventures calendar to find the perfect charity challenge!


Business for Good: The Good Beer Co.

Have a cold one and help save The Great Barrier Reef!

What if we told you that you could get the Great Barrier Reef out of hot water, just by having a cold one? It seems like an Aussie pipe-dream; drinking our preferred bevie whilst saving our beloved reef.

The good news is: it’s not a pipe-dream! Thanks to James Grugeon, the brain-man and founder behind The Good Beer Company, we can now do some social and environmental good while indulging in our favourite Aussie past-time: drinking beer.

The Good Beer Co. is Australia’s first social enterprise beer company. Its mission? Good Beer that does good. In partnership with enviro-savvy microbreweries around Oz, The Good Beer Co. brews quality crafts beers that are inspired by a select charity partner, to whom at least 50 per cent of profits will be donated.

For their first enviro-friendly cause, The Good Beer Co. has launched a crowd-funding campaign for production of its first drop, Great Barrier Beer, which will see at least 50 percent of profits go to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (how good is that!?).

Crowd-funders will also get the opportunity to be the first to enjoy its easy drinking beers, and have a say in future beer recipes, labels and causes. All brews will be made from quality Australian products, as well as being environmentally friend through their ingredient sourcing and production.


It’s no secret that our beautiful Great Barrier Reef is at a tipping point, having lost about half of its coral cover in the past 30 years. Unless we take action now to protect it, the outlook for this natural wonder of the world looks bleak. Yet by helping to crowd-fund ‘Great Barrier Beer’, Aussies will be helping reverse damage to the Reef and ensure its protection for the future.

And, for later brews, The Good Beer Co. will partner with craft brewers across Oz who are committed to supporting important charities. So when Aussies choose to drink Good Beer, they do good too. Need we say more?

Visit their website here, or donate to the cause here.

We can't wait until our case arrives at Inspired HQ!

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Inspired’s favourite social enterprises

Social enterprise, business for good, conscious capitalism; it has many names but one purpose: to make a difference while making a profit.

The industry is booming with start-ups and old standbys gaining more and more market share as people look for new ways to make a positive impact on their world. Here’s a roundup of Inspired’s favourite, tried and true, businesses for good.

1. Who Gives A Crap
We do! And so do the thousands of people who order this toilet paper made from recycled paper. Who Gives a Crap also donates 50 percent of their profits to WaterAid to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. So far they have provided over 46,000 people with a year’s access to a toilet and saved 4,604 trees by using recycled paper. How good is that?

 2. Omology 

One of our very own, Kimberly Kay, founded Omology in 2014 and has been sharing the bliss ever since. Her startup yoga company hosts community yoga classes, usually held outdoors with grass underfoot and sun overhead to fund great causes locally and globally. Omology’s mission is to fund projects that empower women and girls and provide access to education. There’s nothing better than hitting the mat as a midday desk break, or an after work wind down knowing that your practice is serving others. (Omology is on hiatus while Kimberly works in human rights in London, stay tuned!)

3. Toms

We couldn’t compile a list of our favourite businesses for good without including one of the originals, TOMS. Since 2006, this shoe company has been selling their iconic slip-ons with the promise that for every shoe sold, a new pair of shoes will be given to a child in need. Nine years later, 45 million pairs of shoes have been donated. TOMS also has expanded into handbags, eyeglasses, and accessories, but our favourite remains the classic slip-on shoe.

4. One Night Stand

If you’re after some simple, trendy sleepwear and want to support young people sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness, One Night Stand is your brand. They’ve partnered with OzHarvest to delivery one meal for a young person sleeping rough for every purchase made. They’ve also pledged 50 percent of their profits to projects that support young people with employment opportunities and shelter. Their ethos is simple, “We believe that the world is waking up to business playing its part. If all for-profit companies give something every time they sell something, we will all be a part of positive social and environmental impact.” We agree!

5. Thankyou.

We’re pretty excited for our supply of thankyou. hand wash products to arrive at IA headquarters. We made the switch for our office because thankyou. products are eco-friendly, not tested on animals and all about giving back. After expenses, 100 percent of their profits fund life-changing water, food or health and hygiene projects. Thankyou. Group, originally thankyou. water, has expanded into food and body care products and is one of the fastest growing social enterprises in Australia. We can’t wait to see what products they come out with next.

6. Words with Heart

Prepare for beautiful stationery overload if you hop on to Words with Heart’s website orInstagram. Their beautiful designs carry empowering messages like, “Dream big, work hard, have courage” and “Girls just wanna have fun…damental human rights”. They earn their spot on our list for their commitment to producing eco-friendly products with 100 percent recycled paper, vegetable based inks, solar power, and no harsh printing chemicals, not to mention their awesome mission of funding education for underserved women and girls! Writing to-do lists is so much better when it’s not a notepad that changes the world.

Feeling inspired?