Why We Should Start Volunteering on Vacation
Volunteering on vacation (even for one hour) allows us to engage with communities in ways we wouldn't otherwise be able to.
LET'S START A MOVEMENT. WHEN WE THINK OF TRAVEL, LET'S ADD KINDNESS TO OUR ADVENTURES
I'm challenging myself to add philanthropy as a component of future vacations. I've always loved finding hotels, air fare deals and planning excursions (anyone else with me?) and now, I'm formally adding "doing good" to my travel checklist. While I've done acts of kindness and service randomly throughout my travels, there are no conversations on this topic easily searchable on the internet... until now! Will you join me as I try to make the world a better place, one adventure at a time? Read on to find more information and how to get involved!
IT'S SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL + FUN
There are many ways to get involved on vacation, especially in the US. Often times you can get involved with the same cause you support in your local city, or find a similar type of organization. The American Red Cross, food banks / shelters, YMCA, etc. are groups that span many cities.
When volunteering or giving back, you can go as big or as small as you'd like. Below are some ideas on different groups or events you could get involved in while on vacation.
GETTING INVOLVED: STARTING SMALL
IMPACTFUL YET LOW-TIME INVESTMENT ACTIVITIES (that don't require volunteer training):
- Cook dinner for a family or patient as they await treatment at hospitals with Healthcare Hospitality House. This organization is extremely close to my heart, as we were recipients of people's kindness when my dad had a stroke (link below)
- Work with a food bank or shelter to package / sort food for those in need
- Cuddle and spend time with animals at local shelters - help socialize animals with the added bonus of tons of puppy kisses and kitten purrs
- Give blood while on vacation
- Check out apps or websites that promote easy volunteer opportunities. Some sites include DEED (New York City), VolunteerCleanup.org (Miami) or One Brick (multiple cities)
MORE PLANNING YET UBER REWARDING:
- Habitat for Humanity where you build a house with a family in need. Are you active and enjoy seeing city centres?
- Runs / marathons / walks for a cause. I have a friend whose goal is to participate in a half-marathon in every single state. Not only is this a great way to stay in shape and see new cities, the money donated and raised goes to an organization in need.
Be sure to call organizations you are passionate about ahead of time to see what is going on in the area. I recently emailed the director of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality Home (whom I've never met before) after finding her name on the website; we arranged a day for me to come cook dinner the next time I'm in Atlanta! I normally hate cold-calling or sending blind emails but one thing I realized right away: almost everyone in the philanthropy sector is incredibly kind, passionate and happy to hear from people wanting to get involved. At the very least, the will have ideas on how to get more involved!
Learn more about the amazing organizations in this post. Each non-profit (with the exception of Habitat for Humanity) worked with us directly to create this blog post. They are excited to share their story and meet you!
- Furkids - Animal shelter in Atlanta, GA
- Atlanta Hospital Hospitality Home - Hospitality house for medical patients / families - Atlanta, GA
- Hubbard House - Hospitality house for medical patients / families - Orlando, FL
- Habitat for Humanity - Community home builds - Multiple locations
WHY DO GOOD?
An hour or two of your time focused around helping others will enrich your trip and allow you to give back, connect with others, meet local residents and inspire a movement bigger than ourselves.
Have you been trying to "make an impact" but don't know where to start? Want to bond with friends over a higher purpose? Looking to lead by example with your children and teach them altruism is both a respectable + fun quality?
Plus it's a low investment, inexpensive and super impactful excursion. While you could of course plan your vacation around doing good, start small and add one hour of giving back to an already planned trip. It's that easy!
Have you volunteered while on vacation? If so, what did you do and where? Comment below!