The Power Of Philanthropic Travel

First image...
All smiles at the Harambee Community Center in Kenya...

Travel And Give Back

How do you embark on a Journey to Global Citizenship? Start by working with Virtuoso.

... paying it forward in Peru ...
... and a family in Antarctica.

Originally appeared in June 2015 issue of Virtuoso Traveler
By Joel Centano, Virtuoso Traveler Editor-in-Chief

In 2009, following tours in Kenya with Micato Safaris that included visits to Nairobi’s Micato-AmericaShare Harambee Community Centre, U.S. middle-schoolers donated their bar mitzvah money toward building a basketball court for local children. (Donations from travelers originally funded the center itself, which provides a library, learning resource center, nursery school meals, and one of the Mukuru slum’s only sources of clean drinking water.) Five years later, a similarly inspired Florida high-school student raised funds for lacrosse lessons, uniforms, and equipment while teaming up with Micato-AmericaShare and the Federation of International Lacrosse to introduce Mukuru teenagers to the sport.

Travelers of all ages can leave lasting im-pressions on the communities they visit, but the impact works both ways. According to Bayonne, New Jersey-based travel advisor and voluntourism expert Sybil Ford, adding a philanthropic component to vacations, whether it’s for two weeks or two hours, “can be life changing on both ends of the exchange.” Ultimately, she says, “lifelong relationships can be forged, cultural bridges built, and worldviews broadened.”

Not sure which experience is right for your family? “One of the benefits of working with a travel advisor is being able to tailor your trip based on individual interests and preferences,” Ford adds, “and ways to give back can include everything from rebuilding homes to donating schoolbooks and medical supplies.” Here are three experiences worth considering.

1. DIG IN | Kenya
After tracking the “big five” in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, guests traveling with Micato Safaris can give back, say, by planting trees and delivering much-needed supplies to women and children at the Harambee Centre. Additional kid-friendly activities on this 16-day family-centric safari include bush treasure hunts and traditional Swahili mask making. For every safari it sells, Micato also sponsors a Kenyan child’s education through primary school.

2. KEEP IT COOL | Antarctica
“The human, environmental, and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared at the 2014 Climate Summit. “To ride this storm, we need all hands on deck.” Enter Abercrombie & Kent’s small-group voyage to the White Continent. Traveling for 12 days aboard Le BorĂ©al – certified a “Cleanship” by Bureau Veritas for its minimal ecological footprint – a maximum of 199 passengers and budding scientists can learn about the impact of rising temperatures and visit Palmer Research Station to deliver equipment used for climate-change research.

3. SET GOALS | Peru
Spotting pink dolphins, stargazing on deck, and playing soccer with children living in remote villages highlight ten-day family cruises on the Amazon River with International Expeditions. You can also tour water-treatment plants and schools (donating supplies is welcomed) built or supported by the company, which matches guests’ gifts of up to $50,000 per year to selected local organizations.

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