Travel Pulse writer Janeen Christoff explores the many forms and partners volunteer vacations are available.
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Carnival’s new social impact cruise line, Fathom, debuted with much fanfare in April — and has continued to garner accolades from the traveling public throughout its inaugural sailings. One of the keys behind the experience that separates Fathom from other cruise lines is its dedication to voluntourism.
Fathom provides cruisers the chance to immerse themselves in the cultures of Cuba and the Dominican Republic and make a difference by participating in a variety of volunteer projects offered as shore excursions by the cruise line.
Its success speaks to the growing popularity of social impact in the traveling community. Voluntourism is one of the fastest-growing trends in travel at the moment and research from the Family Travel Association suggests that it is a trend that will be on the radar for a long time.
Ten percent of families surveyed in the Family Travel Association’s U.S. Family Travel Survey said that they had taken a volunteer vacation. Maybe more importantly, 29 percent said that they would be interested in this type of travel. Of those who had taken a volunteer vacation, 72 percent said that they would do it again.
If any parent has been searching for schools for their children lately, they will recognize the buzz words “raising global citizens,” “citizens of the world,” and “fostering a sense of global awareness.” There is an increasing focus in education to create meaningful experiences for children that give them a greater worldview.
But Voluntourism goes beyond just multigenerational groups. It’s a growing trend among boomers and millennials as well. According to a recent survey on Huffington Post, Americans age 60-plus were the most likely to have taken a volunteer trip in the last year and retirees were actively seeking out ways to volunteer and give back, especially while traveling.
You don’t have to sail with Fathom to have this type of experience — although it’s a great way to give back, if you do. There are a surprising number of hotels, tour operators and even other cruise lines that offer these opportunities. There are also entire organizations that are devoted to helping people organize trips that are focused on voluntourism.
Here are some of the many ways that travelers can give back while on vacation — and even some that you can incorporate into an existing trip.
Globe Aware is an international organization that offers travelers the opportunity to participate in weeklong projects in a variety of destinations around the world.
Together for Good
Together for Good is a nonprofit organization that serves as a go-to resource for finding voluntourism trips and opportunities for giving. It is run by family travel expert Nancy Schretter and provides a list of opportunities within a variety of destinations, at resorts and on cruises as well as anecdotal experiences and news on the impacts of voluntourism.
Ritz-Carlton Impact Experiences
Ritz-Carlton’s Impact Experiences provides its guests with a memorable and enriching addition to the resort experience by offering opportunities for its guests to contribute to the local community. Impact Experiences are social and environmental impact activities that are unique to the destination in which they are offered and designed to have a lasting and authentic effect within the communities that they serve.
Sandals Resorts’ Sandals Foundation provides a number of opportunities for families to give back, including its Reading Road Trip, which enables guests to visit foundation-adopted schools and help kids learn to read.
Pack for a Purpose
If you already have plans for the summer but want to include some form of giving abroad, contact Pack for a Purpose. The organization helps travelers select and deliver items that are needed in the communities that they are visiting abroad.