It’s the time of year when many of us reconnect with friends and family and look for ways to help out our fellow man. The travel community is no different, and there are lots of ways that charity, volunteering, and philanthropy are involved in where we travel and how we get there. That was the topic of our December Twitter chat and the conversation that erupted was nothing short of heartwarming.
What is a Twitter chat? For those not familiar, TripIt holds a monthly chat on Twitter on the third Thursday of each month from 2-3pm Pacific Time on the hashtag #TripItChat. Every month there’s a new travel topic where we encourage participants to share advice with one another. To learn more, please see: http://landlopers.com/2013/05/01/tripitchat/
Here are some of the key takeaways from our last #TripItChat on Travel and Giving Back.
Lend a Helping Hand
Voluntourism isn’t just a fad, it’s an increasingly important part of the travel experience for many people. Whether it’s a whole trip dedicated to helping others or elements of volunteering that you add to your vacation, there are plenty of opportunities to help others. We asked our community if they could volunteer anywhere in the world, where would they go and what would they do?
- Chat cohost @LeeAbbamonte said he would gladly return to eastern Africa where he had an incredibly rewarding experience as a volunteer.
- @OrlandoChris shared with the group a great website to check current needs around the world so be sure to visit the Idealist website.
- Animal welfare is high on the list for @seeusoontravel, who said she would travel south to help with conservation projects.
- The luxury resort @Kaana_Belize said that they encourage guests to bring school supplies & help out. They stress that it’s possible to volunteer while still having an amazing vacation.
Give Back While You Relax and Be a Responsible Traveler
Kaana already referred to it in the first question, but adding elements of giving back is possible for almost all travelers. It can be in small or big ways, but we can all help out even while enjoying a great trip. Here are some more ideas!
- Several people said that buying decisions are important and to always look for local artisans instead of mass-produced items.
- Some hotels now incorporate voluntourism in their activities, like the Four Seasons Lanai (@FSLanai) that has several great options for guests who want to help out in the local community.
- Other Tweeters reminded the group that even when you’re traveling it’s important to be conscious of the environment.
- Of course, you can also give back before leaving home by donating miles to charities like @MakeAWish.
Places That Make It Easy
While it’s possible to be a responsible traveler no matter where you go, some destinations and even certain hotels and resorts make it easy to give back. We asked our followers to list some great ones and wow, did they list a bunch of fantastic opportunities out there.
- According to @OrlandoChris, Utah’s Red Mountain Resort has a program called “Pound Puppy Hike” that matches guests with rescue dogs.
- There are also certain hotels that were built with sustainability in mind, like the @FeynanEcolodge in Jordan. Named one of the top in the world, Feynan is completely off the grid and provides guests with remarkable experiences involving the local Bedouins.
- Chat co-host @JenniferMiner gave the great tip that any good hotel concierge will be able to recommend several great local voluntourism activities. Just ask!
- For more detailed information, check out these eco-friendly hotel chains we love here.
All About The Experiences
Ultimately, travel is all about the experiences but it’s important to make sure that what we see and do is responsible. Sadly, not all travel activities are made the same but here are a few amazing and sustainable travel experiences around the world.
- When cruising, @RickGriffin recommends Princess Cruises as having one of the best sustainable travel programs in the market.
- It’s rare that an entire country is devoted towards responsible travel, but @TravelBlggr said Costa Rica is one of the best places to enjoy a great trip and protect the environment at the same time.
- Chatter @motherofalltrip made the great point that sometimes particular styles of travel are more sustainable than others, like skiing and snowboarding. The winter sports industry seems to be at the forefront of sustainable travel practices.
- For something closer to home, @mbcohn said the U.S. National Parks are great places to volunteer and enjoy some incredible experiences at the same time.
Supporting Charities With Miles and Points
Did you know that you can support many charities by donating frequent flyer miles or hotel points? We’ve spearheaded a special effort to do this in recent years, but we were also curious to hear about other programs out there.
- Donate airline miles or cash to @MakeAWish to make children’s wishes come true. Find out how here.
- During the holidays, @Expedia allows customers to donate their Expedia points to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
- @OrlandoChris says that instead of wasting expiring miles, he now donates them to the American Red Cross.
- For a full list of these amazing programs be sure to check out donatemilesforcharity.com.
How do you give back when you travel?
Don’t forget to join us for the next #TripItChat on January 15, 2015 at 2:00PM Pacific/5:00PM Eastern when we will be talking about 2015 Travel Hotspots & Trends!