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How to Travel Philanthrophy for Beginners
Many of us hear vacation and immediately think of a cruise, a cottage or an all-inclusive resort in which we can relax completely, far removed from the pressures of our day-to-day lives, the news headlines and the grinding sound of the rest of the world. This is ideal for some of us, while for others a new kind of vacation has become more popular recently: travel philanthropy.
What is travel philanthropy?
Travel philanthropy is often associated with volunteer tourism, however this not always the case. More often, travellers’ efforts support and empower local communities when they learn about, visit and contribute directly to social, educational, artisanal or environmental programs during their trips. Some examples include:
- City walks in New Delhi led by youngsters trained as tour guides.
- Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand, a sanctuary and rescue centre for endangered elephants. Tour costs go toward rebuilding elephants’ natural habitats.
- Buying beads in Uganda. As part of BeadforLife, women in Uganda create beads from recycled paper to create jewellery, sales of which are used for food, medicine and school fees. Profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that help Ugandans work their way out of poverty.
- Taking a rafting trip in Costa Rica – expert native Costa Rican rafters whose mission is to protect and conserve the rivers and rainforests of Costa Rica while empowering and engaging the local community members.
- Volunteering on an Israeli kibbutz – a social community where members and volunteers live and work to help to produce kibbutz goods (whether as farmers, cabinetmakers, cooks or tailors) as part of the local economy. Though Israeli in origin, people of all backgrounds and religions can work on a kibbutz.
- Habitat for Humanity, a global effort that offers homeownership opportunities to families locally and around the world who are unable to obtain conventional house financing. Although Habitat is a Christian organization, neither its housing nor its volunteer opportunities are limited to Christians.
Before you book your ticket
As you consider travel philanthropy for your next vacation, ask yourself these important questions that can help you decide if it is right for you:
- Am I comfortable with this level of involvement?
If you want to support endangered elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand, but are uncomfortable being close to a wild animal in its natural habitat, you can buy elephant medical kits online. The elephants will still benefit from your support.
- Am I doing this for the right reasons?
Consider what about your trip is going to mean to you, and to those who may be joining you on your trip. If your heart isn’t in it, consider another kind of trip that you know you will benefit from.
- Am I physically able to make this trip?
You may favour less strenuous vacations, such as cruises or spa retreats, because you physically need the rest. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself. Be sure to discuss your trip plans with your doctor before you leave to ensure that you are up to any physical challenges that may arise. And don’t forget adequate travel health insurance.
Taking the next step
Travel philanthropy can be one of the more rewarding experiences you have while on vacation. If you’d like to learn more, speak to your travel agent, who can recommend travel opportunities that are in tune with your needs and the issues that matter to you.
This article is supplied by Ron Ciotola, an Investment Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Member CIPF. This article is for information purposes only. Please consult with a professional advisor before taking any action based on information in this article.