I've always believed in giving back whenever I can. Donating money, needed supplies, services or our time - all of these options make a difference in people's lives.
Giving of one's time is usually the most challenging, given all of our competing priorities. I have always found though, that giving of my time is the most rewarding. I personally have been involved with the Fiesta Bowl charities for well over a decade. I love college football and golf and the Fiesta Bowl organization sponsors fun events around these themes. Knowing that my time and effort directly supports our community makes it that much more rewarding. We volunteer for a wide variety of causes. Do you have a favorite?
Through travel, I have had the opportunity to see both areas of wealth and of extreme poverty, with the latter having the biggest affect on me. I'm very grateful to what my country affords me. So it is wonderful to see more companies getting travelers involved in the communities they visit. The opportunity to make a difference - not only in the lives of others but also your own.
One such company is Fathom, a new cruise line part of the Carnival Corporation family.
Beginning in April they are offering weeklong sailings from Miami to the Dominican Republic or to Cuba. In the Dominican Republic guests choose from a number of activities to work side by side with local residents, from teaching them English and entrepreneurship to creating water filters so locals can access clean water. In Cuba, guests interact one on one with artists, musicians, small business owners and health workers. Both destinations offer three full days where guests immerse themselves into another culture. What a fabulous combination - several days at sea having "fun in the sun" and several days in port making a big difference in someone's life. Fathom's tagline is perfect: "Travel With A Purpose".
Another company helping travelers make a difference is Shoretrips, a global shore excursion company. They have partnered with Hope Floats in Belize, Barbados and St. Lucia on community development projects. Shoretrips offers half day projects, from community cleanup to working in soup kitchens and helping in school programs. Depending on the amount of time in port, other half day excursions can be added. Best of both worlds - an opportunity to experience the area and make a difference! Check with your travel consultant for options available.
Pack For A Purpose, a charitable organization with a global reach, makes donating needed supplies easy on travelers. Travelers choose a destination, find the local tour company or accommodation that is sponsoring a project, choose items from the requested supplies list, bring them with you on and drop them off at the accommodation or tour company when in port or town. The accommodation or tour company will deliver them to the project. One of their active partners is the Sandals Resorts Charitable Foundation, having donated thousands of pounds of needed school supplies to over 400 locations worldwide. This is a great opportunity for families and groups traveling together to have a big and immediate impact on a local project.
Below are other ways companies are getting involved:
Voluntourism is becoming one of the biggest travel trends, and these are just a few of the wonderful vacation options for individuals, families and groups who are looking to give back while on vacation. All on your schedule - give as much or as little time as you want. A definite win-win!
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder