by Ericka Baron
During the Holiday Season we are often reminded of the importance of giving back to our community by helping those in need. Giving back is a wonderful way to feel like you can make a difference and to connect with those in your community. During my travels, I have often witnessed many families and communities that have a lot less than we can imagine. When traveling there are many ways we can give back and make a difference in the countries’ we visit.
Pack for a Purpose is a volunteer-run non-profit organization that helps to connect travelers with different community projects around the world that focus on education, health, child and animal welfare. On their website, you can choose your travel destination and project of interest. Pack for a Purpose will provide you a list of needed supplies that you may choose to pack in your luggage to be dropped off and then delivered to the project of your choice. One year my daughters’ schools had a school supply drive for an education project in rural India. I had the pleasure of dropping off bags full of art materials and have tea with the people in charge of the project. It was a wonderfully rewarding experience.
Some tour companies, airlines and hotels also have foundations that fund community projects around the globe and invite their clients to donate and/or visit the local projects when traveling. Intrepid Travel, a tour company with a strong emphasis on social responsibility, runs a foundation that funds world-wide projects that make a positive change. As part of their “Travel for Good” campaign, 10% of your purchase of an organized trip is contributed to their projects. One funded project provides at-risk youth in Vietnam training and support to help them get off the streets and teach them skills to work in a highly acclaimed 5 star restaurants across the country.
Volunteer vacations are also a popular and great way to immerse yourself in a culture and give back. There are different types of volunteer opportunities that enable people to share their skills and time, from helping to build housing in remote areas to teaching English in non-formal education settings. The popular Me to We foundation started by Craig and Marc Keilburger now offers “travel with a purpose” programs. They are a series of organized trips from Ecuador to Kenya that give students, families, and solo adults the opportunity to travel and participate handson in some projects. When I graduated from University I had the opportunity to volunteer for six months in India helping at non-formal education centers in the slums of Delhi. It was an unforgettable opportunity that I treasure, and which has impacted me until this day by realizing the importance of helping whenever I can, big or small.
Travel can open our hearts and minds to the different circumstances of people’s lives across the world. Finding ways to give back to others can enrich our travel experiences and give us memorable and meaningful connections with those we help during our travels. Bon Voyage!!
Pack for a Purpose:
Intrepid Travel Foundation: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ca/about/intrepid-foundation
ME to WE: