Whether traveling for the holiday season or taking a personal vacation in the New Year, it is often during these breaks from the daily grind that we are reminded to give back with some of our time and resources. Even if free time remains a limited resource and vacations or holidays are sacred and scarce, a growing focus in travel allows us to make a difference while taking a holiday. Here are a few ideas to get started on giving back through your vacation travel.
1. Start with the Right Place to Stay
One easy way to make a difference is to select properties already committed to making a difference in their local environments or communities. A trip to Mexico’s hotspots of the Riviera Maya or Puerto Vallarta may be the perfect beach escape but one can stay at places focused on preserving the environment and minimizing travel footprints.
In Playa del Carmen a beach town along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Hacienda Tres Rios may seem like another all-inclusive property, but its engineering contains water treatments to preserve the natural environment. Even exhaust from the air conditioning is used to heat water for hot showers, and more.
In Puerto Vallarta, Nemi Eco Villa created its rooms or suites from repurposed shipping containers using sustainable building materials and keeps a no-chemical, natural pool. Not to mention it offers incredible sunset views over the Bay of Banderas. Look for resorts and hotels making a difference and choose to stay there.
2. Pack for a Purpose
Don’t just take carry-ons on your next trip in an attempt to avoid baggage fees; pack a big suitcase and use the extra space (not for more shoes) but to add and donate specific supplies. Pack for a Purpose is an organization that works with initiatives all over the world in need of supplies and enables travelers to drop off these items locally when visiting.
Plenty of the projects are for kids and include simple school supplies for teachers and students, sports, and more. Simply select a destination on the site and learn about local Pack with Purpose initiatives. Travelers will also find luxury resorts as participants such as the Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn in Belize.
3. Take the Lokal Tour
When beautiful destinations open up for travelers to visit and experience, one of the ways to say thank you is to make sure a hearty portion of your dollar spend returns to the local community. Thousands of businesses claim to support locals or be eco-friendly, but how do we really know their claims are accurate?
Lokal Travel works with local leaders and global travelers to connect with family-run, community cooperatives doing good locally. The site offers tours with vetted tour guides making a difference in their community. So wherever you are heading next, explore the tours listed on Lokal and consider booking one.
4. Fathom Cruise Excursions
Over two years ago Carnival Cruise launched Fathom Travel, a cruise line focused on making a social impact through excursions. It was designed to allow passengers to role-up their sleeves and physically help pour concrete floors, re-plant the rain forest, make water filters, work in a women’s cooperative focused on chocolate, and more.
Eventually Fathom returned its ship, the ms Adonia, to another sister line, but the company still works under the Carnival umbrella offering special ‘Fathom’ shore excursions to multiple Caribbean destinations. Learn more about Fathom excursions from Carnival Corporation.
5. Venture to Make an Impact
For the many of us wanting to spend more time traveling—and also giving—but still need to keep a job, there are ways to work remotely and offer your unique skillsets to those in need. Venture with Impact offers the opportunity for travelers to spend a month in one of four desirable destinations while continuing to work but also donating their specific “specialized” skills to local organizations part-time.
The skills-based volunteering can be the perfect fit for travel-savvy digital nomads or people working in seasonal, flexible, or location independent positions. Just select a destination, highlight your skillsets and let Venture with Impact find the best match. Volunteer from 2-15 hours a week to help local companies and communities while also receiving cultural orientation, accommodations, a workspace, a city tour and more.
Get on the Road and Start Giving Back
You can start small—make the right hotel choices and pack properly or you can roll up your sleeves, donate your skills and venture big. There are many ways to make a difference. As you contemplate your next holiday, make the bold choice to become part of the shift; make a bigger impact by giving back while gaining your future travel experiences.