A globetrotting friend of mine has developed a wonderful tradition of purchasing small, easy to carry hand crafted items from local artisans during her travels.

Once home, she throws her increasingly popular "Jan's Collection" home parties, where women friends, family members, and friends-of-friends gather to 'purchase' the items for the cash donation of their choice.

Next trip, she funnels the donations back to the next group of artisans through a new cache of purchases and repeats the process. It's her version of microfinancing on a macro scale.

Travelers like Jan are living proof that we don't have to be Bill Gates to make a difference.


Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".