What if you could go on the honeymoon, destination wedding or vacation of your dreams and change someone else's life in the process?
"To make a difference in someone's life you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care." ~ Mandy Hale
I have always been an advocate for being kind. I think that our world needs more caring, compassion and kindness. So, you are probably wondering how you can you give back when you are traveling? Fortunately, there are many ways to make a difference on your next getaway.
"Voluntourism" is very popular today. You should do your research to find reputable organizations to donate your time, supplies or money to. There are watchdog agencies like charitynavigator.org and charitywatch.org that will give you information on various charities. Let's explore a few of my favorites.
Pack for a Purpose
Recently I took a FAM (familiarization) trip to Aruba. One of the resorts we were visiting, Bucuti & Tara (a lovely resort that I highly recommend), participates in Pack for a Purpose. I made a trip to our local dollar store to purchase supplies that were on the list for a local children's home that services children who cannot live at home for various reasons. I packed all of these items in my suitcase and I wasn't even close to my weight limit!
Pack for a Purpose (www.packforapurpose.org) has many destinations and resorts throughout the world that participate. Their participants initiatives include: Education, Health, Child Welfare, Animal Welfare and Socioeconomic Development. Sandals Resorts all participate in Pack for a Purpose. I will be packing a school backpack filled with school supplies for a FAM trip to Sandals South Coast at the end of September.
Potcake Place (Animal Rescue)
I can't imagine anything more adorable than taking rescue puppies for a walk on the gorgeous sands of Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos. Potcake Place is an animal rescue that has been in business over 20 years. They rescue "potcakes", which is the name for the dogs in Turks & Caicos.
There have been numerous articles about their program for walking the rescue puppies on the beach to socialize them for adoption. In fact, it is so popular, that there is often a wait. If you like the puppy you can even take it home with you! They also take donations of supplies and money.
I learned about this wonderful charity from clients of mine who have visited twice. They take supplies with them each time they visit. I also made a donation in their honor as a birthday gift. It was a win-win for everyone, especially the lucky puppy that got medical attention as a result.
Turks & Caicos is a wonderful destination and Potcake Place is a "must do" if you are an animal lover. Other islands have similar animal rescue charities. When I was in Aruba in June I learned about ARF (Animal Relief Foundation) and Maui has HARF (Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation). All of my client thank you cards are made by a high school friend, Susan Armstrong, who donates the proceeds of her handmade cards to HARF (click here to view).
Paul Gauguin Cruises - Partnership with WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Paul Gauguin is a luxury mid-size cruise line that sails through Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji and the South Pacific. They have won, among other awards, the #1 Mid-Size Ship Ocean Cruise Line two years in a row from Travel & Leisure.
Recently they have teamed up with the WCS (World Conservation Society) to offer onboard educational opportunities. Guests can donate directly to the WCS, which has been committed to saving wildlife and wild places worldwide for over 120 years. www.wcs.org
In their Wildlife Discovery Series (click here for more information) guests learn about marine wildlife and habitats from some of the world's most interesting scientists, oceanographers, and conservationists. This lecture series has donation envelopes available for guests to contribute to a specific or general cause of the WCS.
They also offer a Stewards of Nature program (click here for more information) which is an experiential, hands-on educational program for children ages 7-17 and their families to inspire children to value nature and explore the local environment. It is available on summer and holiday sailings for a nominal fee. Learning about the environment as a family strengthens family bonding and creates a caring legacy.
Both of these programs can be booked through your travel professional (ME!).
Tetiaroa Society & The Brando
The Brando is a luxury resort on the private island of Tetiaroa in French Polynesia. This is an eco-resort which boasts "carefree luxury in the midst of pristine nature". Their mission includes preserving and protecting the precious biodiversity of Tetiaroa, respecting and supporting Polynesian culture and trying NOT to leave a carbon footprint. 👣
You may have learned about the Brando when President Obama visited upon completion of his presidency. Marlon Brando fell in love with the area while he was shooting Mutiny on the Bounty in the 1960's and bought it.
Brando also wanted to preserve the unspoiled natural beauty and raise awareness of the fragility of our environment, so the Tetiaroa Society was founded by the Marlon Brando Estate. This ecostation has activities focused in three areas: education, conservation, and creative science. Brando's granddaughter is an official guide for the naturalist tours offered to guests.
Couples Resorts - Issa Trust Foundation
One of my favorite resorts in Jamaica is Couples San Souci. I fell in love with the beautiful, romantic, hillside setting of San Souci on a FAM trip to Jamaica in April 2016. I even booked my son and his bride there for their honeymoon!
Recently, Couples San Souci hosted a concert by the band Air Supply to raise money for the Issa Trust Foundation. This foundation was founded by Couples (which has a total of 4 resorts, one more in Ocho Rios and two in Negril) in 2005 to "promote the wellbeing of the people of Jamaica through wide-ranging initiatives including health promotion, education and job counseling."
You can support the Foundation by becoming a corporate sponsor, a donor or participating in hands-on activities. On Friday mornings from 9:30-noon for a small fee ($65/couple) you can visit the Free Hill Primary & Infant School to deliver much needed supplies and interact with the children. Transportation and a t-shirt are included in your fee. You can learn more about the Issa Trust Foundation here.
Sandals are one of the most popular honeymoon and destination wedding resorts. They are scattered throughout the Caribbean. These adults only resort are perfect for a romantic getaway.
The Sandals Foundation "seeks to fulfill the promise of the Caribbean community through investment in sustainable projects in education; environment and community which improve people's lives and preserve our natural surroundings.
You can donate money, or supplies (such as Pack for a Purpose) or participate in hands-on activities like the Reading Road Trip sponsored by Scholastic, Island Routes and Sandals.
You can learn more about the Sandals Foundation programs by clicking here.