Why Responsible Travel Is Cool!
February 28, 2014|Posted in: Responsible Travel
When I tell people that I’ve started a philanthropic travel company, their first response is to ask, “What’s that?” I like to think of it as travel that makes a difference, but still feels like a vacation.
In fact, I started the company for people like me who work too hard and don’t play enough, people who want to do good in the world yet desperately need a break.
If you are like me, vacation is an oasis in the desert of work. You want, and really need, to relax and have fun. The idea of using your precious vacation time to build a school or dig a well, while inspiring, also seems exhausting. It’s definitely something I aspire to, but can’t ever seem to manage.
If you are like me, you also enjoy adventure travel. It gets you out of the predictability (and dare I admit boredom) of the nine-to-five world.
Going on adventures, especially if you are an avid traveler, means sometimes you visit developing countries. And, here’s the rub. Your bright and shiny vacation gets tarnished when you see the living conditions of some of the people there. You feel uncomfortable when you see the looks of desperation and disappointment on their faces when you can’t bring yourself to buy another bracelet, hat, or drawing.
The cool thing about philanthropic travel (Llama Expeditions style) is that it has the ability to restore the shine to your much-needed vacation. You get to partake in the pleasures of a traditional tour (amazing sites, comfortable hotels, fabulous restaurants) to recharge your batteries, and you get to leave the people and the places you’ve visited better off because they met you.
Here’s how it works. The tour follows a traditional itinerary with a couple of stops to nonprofit organizations added in. I’ve personally selected the organizations because they provide opportunity and empowerment to the people they serve. We are not, after all, looking to set up a welfare system for the locals. Rather, the idea is to provide them with support and encouragement to better their lives and pursue their dreams.
At these organizations, you have the option of giving gifts of warm clothing, healthy food, or school supplies. We provide you with a wish list before the trip. You can shop at home or with our guides.
You decide the total cost of the gifts. I usually recommend spending about $25 in total over the course of the trip. The reward is immense. The experience of seeing someone’s eyes light up at the sight of a warm fleece jacket, a piece of bread, a handful of coca leaves, or a colored pencil and knowing that you made their day, week, month, or even year through this act of kindness is incredible. For me, it’s been addicting.
Philanthropic travel is about making a difference, yet still having fun.