An Illustrated List of People Who Do Good When They Travel

Art + Architecture Activism
by Maptia Nov 14, 2013

Illustrated crests

Travelers come in many shapes and sizes. They travel with purpose or roam aimlessly, instigate change or passively pass through, become consumed by wanderlust, drop off the grid, get lost, and find their way back home. There are as many different types of wandering souls as there are places to go, but today — inspired by Mark Joseph Deutsch’s beautiful illustrations — we would like to celebrate one particular type: the traveler who does good.

These helpful people always seem to appear no matter where you go, and have somehow managed to disperse themselves across the planet to even the most remote and inhospitable places. The illustrated list below highlights (while embracing stereotypes) just a handful, and we are sure you will recognize aspects of yourself or a fellow traveler amongst them.

An illustration of a convervationist

1. The conservationist

The conservationist is a friend to the planet and to all creatures who roam the Earth. He or she usually has remarkable facts ready at the drop of a hat (“Did you know that in the past 50 years, humans have consumed more resources than in all previous history?!”), and is an aware and thoughtful traveler. They definitely know where to tread carefully when it comes to trotting around the globe, and are always looking to further their knowledge about what we can do when it comes to conserving and protecting our world. You can ask them to recite most of the endangered species list and they will likely have no trouble.

    – Most likely to be found hugging sloths, or supervising the planting of trees.

An illustration of a traveling teacher

2. The traveling teacher

The traveling teacher is someone who walks with a sense of purpose. He or she is usually quite clear about their reasons for traveling, because the answer to the question is nearly always ‘to teach.’ This educational quest can take the traveling teacher far and wide, from tiny villages tucked away high in the Himalayas to isolated African settlements where goats are frequent classroom interruptions.

    – Most likely to be found simultaneously explaining basic algebra and swatting at mosquitoes.

An illustration of doctor abroad

3. The doctor overseas

The doctor overseas is an inspirational fellow. A considerate and mindful traveler, their skills are important and necessary, which usually means they’re welcomed with appreciative, open arms wherever they travel. The places they visit are sometimes remote, and often they choose to put themselves in relative danger in order to continue their work. Saving lives is their 9-to-5, and though extremely challenging, the time they spend helping those who are in need of aid is the definition of rewarding.

    – Most likely to be found exhausted, overwhelmed, and grateful for the chance to have a positive, direct impact on the lives of others.

An illustration of the orphanage volunteer

4. The orphanage volunteer

The orphanage volunteer is often searching for something — a deeper meaning in life, a way to give back. For them, the most important aspect of life is helping others, and they are usually quite selfless souls. Being a volunteer at an orphanage means that they need to be aware of the strong impressions they’re creating on the young minds around them, and as such are often thoughtful, reliable, and would (if they aren’t already) make darn good parents. They also generally have a lot of patience with everyone and an endless supply of energy for games like ‘tag.’

    – Most likely to be found reading picture books, diverting infant tantrums, and retrieving objects that have been hurled across the room.

Illustration of a person who is a builder of things

5. The builder of things

The builder of things is a traveler who relishes a challenge and who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. They are relaxed, practical travelers and aren’t afraid of hard work that comes with little or no material reward — that isn’t why they’re there. It could be constructing homes for underprivileged families in Vietnam, or helping to build a community church in Kenya — what matters to them is building something physical that can change the lives of many and will remain for years to come.

    – Most likely to be found carrying bricks and mortar, or chatting with locals in the midday sun.

An illustration of a community worker

6. The community worker

The community worker always has a lot of ideas buzzing around and has often gained experience working in different grassroots situations all over the world. They love group discussions, and are always keen to incorporate thoughts and improvements the community might suggest. They are mindful of local traditions and culture, but do their best to make sure plans go ahead whenever possible. Their ultimate goal is to empower the local community to drive change for themselves. As travelers they are generally filled with purpose and enthusiasm and remain forever in search of the next project.

    – Most likely to be found in a meeting with the local shaman, or trying to explain to an isolated farming community that enhanced irrigation is a good idea.

An illustration of a fundraising person

7. The fundraiser

The fundraiser is a get-up-and-go type, who is both community-minded and ambitious. They are not afraid of challenges, whether it’s climbing mountains, crossing deserts, or overcoming regulations that stand in the way of their good intentions. They love the fact that they can pursue their passion and use it to have a positive impact on the world. More than anything, the fundraiser loves to see their time and effort make a difference, and it’s this feeling that gives them the drive and enthusiasm to continue with their (usually self-initiated) tasks.

    – Most likely to be found completing crazy adventures on behalf of a charity, or filling out unwanted but necessary paperwork.

An illustration of a couchsurfer

8. The couchsurfer

The couchsurfer has become a common type of traveler. They are often (but not exclusively) people who are ensuring their journey is one that won’t break the bank, regardless of whether it’s a meticulously planned trip or they’re making it up as the go along. Generally sociable folk who you would probably invite over for a dinner party anyway, the couchsurfer is all about discovery, rediscovery, and connecting with others.

    – Most likely to be found on a couch that is not their own in a wonderful, unfamiliar city.

An illustration of a wwoofer

9. The WWOOFer

The WWOOFer is the best kind of helper, and they can be found all over the globe. From fruit-picking in Spain to herding cattle in the US, WWOOFers find places to work in exchange (usually) for food and board. They almost always will have found work through the organization, which aims to connect these helpful folk with organic and sustainable projects. It can be a great, no-expectations way to escape for a while, as the normal length of a stay is normally a couple of weeks, and a surprising number of countries are part of the WWOOFing network.

    – Most likely to be found leaving their comfort zone in the dust, or in strawberry fields.

An illustration of an ecotraveler

10. The eco traveler

The eco traveler is not difficult to recognize. He or she is proactive and protective of the world in which they live. Their carbon footprint is but a distant memory, and when traveling they’re careful to leave nothing behind. Often, the eco traveler will make the inevitable transition into a fully-fledged eco warrior. These soldiers of Mother Nature are always discovering new ways to travel green and ensure that their impact on the environment is negligible.

    – Most likely to be found in close proximity to trees, and waging (peaceful) war against global warming.

This post originally appeared over on the Maptia Blog; the team at Maptia have just launched their beautiful platform for telling stories about places. The illustrations were done by Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence at Maptia.

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