Considering ways to volunteer on your own? There are loads of great nonprofits and tour operators that provide meaningful and worthwhile volunteer travel experiences. But there are also plenty of ways you can DIY a Travel for Good vacation.
One of the easiest ways to plan your own Travel for Good itinerary is to search a volunteer-focused website. Idealist, Volunteer Match and the HandsOn Network each list thousands of service projects for volunteers all over the world. Search by location, type of service that you’re interested in and length of time you have to commit. Options include everything from serving food at a soup kitchen in New Orleans to helping bathe elephants at a sanctuary in Indonesia. Similarly, many major cities have organizations that match people to projects and organizations throughout their local areas, such as New York Cares, Chicago Cares and HandsOn Nashville.
Many hotels also offer ways for guests to contribute to local communities. Impact Experiences at Ritz-Carlton hotels gives groups that stay at their properties a chance to contribute to the communities they are visiting. The luxury brand helps plan activities off-site, such as preserving gardens on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, as well as on-site, like assembling emergency preparedness kits to ship to disaster relief centers. At Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts in the Caribbean, guests can participate in the Reading Road Trip program, which takes them to local schools to help teach children to read.
On the water, Hope Floats, a California nonprofit, pairs Caribbean cruise passengers with organizations on several islands to paint, feed the homeless, work in animal shelters and more. Crystal Cruises’ You Care, We Care program offers its guests the chance to participate in “voluntourism excursions” at various ports of call, such as preparing food for the elderly in Belize and assisting with penguin conservation in New Zealand.
If you’re taking a beach vacation, the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy encourages you to organize your own beach clean-up simply by bringing a trash bag along. (The organization also suggests downloading its app, CleanSwell, and documenting your progress.) You can do the same on a hike and register your activity with CleanTrails.org. If you want to get even more involved, the group has suggestions on its website for how to be an “advocate,” “ambassador” or “leader” in the movement to eliminate waste from trails on public land.
Room and board are exchanged for work with an NGO, at a school, on a farm or other places through Workaway, a website that connects hosts and volunteers. Similarly, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms connects farmers with volunteers. Both sites are free to search, but you have to pay a membership fee to apply for opportunities.
If you’re interested in environmental issues, Earthwatch International pairs volunteers with top scientists from around the world working on research projects. Participants can lend a hand on expeditions studying climate change in the Arctic, the protection of biodiversity in Costa Rica and much more.
Travelocity’s Travel for Good™ program aims to inspire travelers to give back in ways big and small throughout their journeys. To learn more about the program, get involved in a local community or start planning your next Travel for Good trip, please visit Travelocity.com/TravelForGood.
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