In our next series of articles we will talk about Purpose Travel. I have broken this up into 3 articles;
- Giving Back programs
- Educational travel
- Religious travel
First we need to define Purpose Travel. Certainly no one travels without a purpose. It may be relaxation, scenery, romance, visit a country we have never seen, or trace our roots. Purpose Travel is different. Here we are trying to accomplish a very specific goal. There are 3 generally accepted Purpose Travel Goals as I just mentioned, so let’s start with Giving Back programs.
Giving Back is based on a simple theory: ”I have something that you need, and because you give me pleasure when I give that something to you, this is what I want to give you”. In a recent survey done by Tourism Cares, 55 percent of travelers surveyed had donated services or money to a place they had visited. There are many ways to give back, but there is a whole new wave of travel designed to “Give Back” to the communities visited. Special emphasis on the communities, not an entire country.
Recently tourism opened up to Cuba. Anyone who knows Cuba knows there are areas reminiscent of the 1950’s in the USA. Several Cruise Lines offer Purpose Travel to Cuba or the Dominican Republic, where clients actually go to communities to help on farms, factories, or water projects. The Travel Corporation actually has a Partnership with an organization called ME to WE. That corporation is formed to channel all profits from Purpose Travel back to the communities, while the travelers are “immersed” in the community while they are there. Those trips have allowed the ME to We organizer Craig Kielburger, to complete water projects helping over 1 million people get access to clean water.
The Partnership between The Travel Corporation and ME to We uses Tour Operators to organize tours to places such as Kenya, Ecuadorian Amazon, and India, where ME to WE volunteers help immerse the traveler in community projects. This is, by far, the best way to live, learn, and give back to a community, while still enjoying other benefits of a guided tour. In Kenya, for example, Tourists stay at cottages or tented camps, learn about the Maasai people, learn beading, and help build a community school. This is a win – Win for everyone. While volunteerism is not for every traveler, it is an emerging concept that certainly has helped form a much better picture of what America is all about than political bantering has ever done. If you are fairly healthy, American Proud, and willing, then Giving Back may be for you.
As a member of The Travel Corporation, we at Leisure Travel also have programs where you can give back to the community. At least once a year we sponsor a 7 night cruise to Jamaica or Mexico. Everyone is asked to buy a backpack, go to someplace like Dollar Store, Office Depot, etc. and fill the back Pack with school supplies. Then, at one of our cruise ports, we will visit a community school and bring these supplies to needy children.
On one of our recent trips, we were accompanied by a Catholic Priest. We stopped in Mexico for a prearranged school house visit. We took our usual backpacks and supplies. The school turned out to be a 24 by 24 concrete block building, with no windows, no running water, no toilets, and no electricity. The teacher was a high school educated resident who was paid $25 a day to teach. There were 36 students from 1st grade to High School. The real highlight was our Catholic Priest, who was mobbed by the children. They had not seen a Priest in 5 years. These children were of the poorest of the poor, because the families could not afford to pay the cost of School Uniforms required to attend the State Schools. Barbara and I still communicate with the Village Mayor who led the tour. That is volunteerism.
Make sure to check in next week for part 2 of Purpose Travel.
As always, contact Phil and Barbara Angelo to answer any of your travel questions.