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Travel with Purpose: How Companies, Groups, and Individuals Can Make a Difference

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

While this powerful quote is most often attributed to President John F. Kennedy, it’s actually something Jacqueline Kennedy said.

No matter the origins of the statement, the concept of social responsibility – where we consider the impact of our choices on the world around us – is increasingly relevant in today’s complex and fast-paced world. In fact, volunteer rates hit a record high in 2018, with nearly one-third of Americans participating, according to a federal study by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Still, despite wanting to make a difference, it’s not always easy to find effective ways to have a positive impact. Have you ever thought about doing good on the go? Travel provides unique opportunities to enrich the lives of others while gaining an extra connection to different places and cultures.

As you consider your next trip – whether it’s as an individual on vacation or a business trip, or as a member of a group or incentive travel program – here are five ideas to incorporate a social responsibility element into your travel planning.

1. Give your time

Volunteering in the local community you’re visiting is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of giving back as you travel. Volunteering gives you a powerful way to connect with the local culture and provide assistance where it’s needed most.

However, while there are plenty of opportunities, it can be difficult to know which are credible. In recent years, “voluntourism” scams have proliferated. As a result, while the intentions of travelers are good, the volunteer efforts can have unintended consequences. It’s important to do your research – or tap into established programs.

Some hotels and cruise lines offer options to contribute to local communities. For example, Ritz Carlton offers “Impact Experiences” in many of its locations, where guests can participate in efforts as varied as building bird nests for rare migrating species or taking part in community farming. In the cruise industry, a non-profit organization called Hope Floats provides volunteer options – most family-friendly – with organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Humane Society at different ports of call.

At Cruise Dreams, we have partnerships around the world that enable us to match our clients with authentic volunteer opportunities that match their goals. Whether individual, group, or incentive travel programs, our experts can design volunteer activities that can span a day or a few hours, or fit into a break during a busy meeting agenda.

2. Pack with purpose

You know the space in your suitcase you leave empty to fill with souvenir purchases? One easy way to give back is to fill the space with items needed in the community you’re visiting. An organization called Packing for a Purpose makes it simple by cataloging what’s needed in destinations around the world. Then, the organization coordinates with local hotels and tour companies that serve as consolidated drop-off points to ensure the donations go to the right places.

Depending on the local needs, the items range from pencils, notepads, or books to medical supplies like stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and band-aids. The Cruise Dreams team can help you identify the right items to add to your suitcase as you plan your trip.

3. Buy local

One of the best ways to support local communities is simply by being a tourist. By making an effort to support local restaurants, businesses, and souvenir vendors, you can have a significant economic impact.

If you want to take it to the next level, check out the “Support Small Business” section of Grassroots

The site compiles a comprehensive list of businesses around the world that build support for local causes into their business models. For example, a visit to a specific coffee shop in Vietnam not only provides a delicious cappuccino, but the restaurant is also run by graduates of a local organization’s hospitality and culinary training program for street kids and disadvantaged youth.

4. Leave no trace

Socially responsible travel also includes minimizing the impact on the environment. This can range from bringing along your own reusable shopping bags and water bottles to purchasing carbon credits to offset the cost of your flights. Once you’ve arrived, choose eco-friendly options like walking, biking, or trains for sightseeing and don’t stray from designated paths as you’re hiking.

5. Make a donation

Sometimes the simplest and most impactful way to contribute is a monetary gift. But do your research. Experts recommend giving to reputable organizations rather than people on the street. After spending time in a region, you’re likely to have a whole new perspective on what will make the biggest difference. Make a post-trip practice of donating to a charity working in the area. Or, get more personal with a micro-loan through a charitable organization like Kiva that funds a local entrepreneur or farmer.

Through travel, we can all make the world a better place. Partner with Cruise Dreams to build giving back into your individual, group, or incentive travel itinerary.

Call us at (877) 999-4533 or email us at today.

Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!

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