Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
I know that solo travel is often about opportunities that feed your soul. Seeing something breath-taking. Reveling in nature. Climbing the highest peaks or sinking into the deepest bubble bath possible.
But there's another kind of travel that I'm going to embark upon this summer, and it's something you can do, too. Philanthropic travel.
Now, generally when people discuss philanthropic travel it's more closely aligned with voluntourism -- going to an impoverished area and helping to make bricks to build houses or building wells in areas that never have clean drinking water. Sometimes it's even to help rehabilitate animals that have been wounded by poachers or to do something as unglamorous as dig ditches.
Philanthropic travel, in my estimation, is about getting wherever it is that you're going and giving some Thing away. Whether it's clothing or shoes or bags of food, philanthropic travel can connect you with people in a way that you could never imagine. You become the good samaritan, and it can be you and a camera and a trunk full of canned goods and non-perishables. Generally, philanthropy is associated with people who have their own Charitable Foundations, but it doesn't have to be. It's not expensive to help feed someone, so this is my solo travel suggestion for the summer. Take one philanthropic trip - and here are 5 things to consider when you go:
1. Any trip can be philanthropic. If you're going to Santa Fe on a business trip, you can stop at a grocery store while you're there. Buy a $20 gift card or a few cases of whatever canned food is on sale and drop it off at a food bank on your way through town. Most cities have food banks that work to feed those who have hit hard times. Just ask.
2. Do research and ask about volunteering. If you're heading out to a particular destination and you think you might have a day without plans, call the food bank and ask if you can volunteer to help sort food or fill food boxes.
3. Look for soup kitchens or rescue missions, and call to find out what they need most. Most places that feed meals to the homeless every day are more than happy to take your call. Set aside a few dollars and buy some supplies for them. If they accept volunteers, ask if you can help.
4. Your church may have sister churches where you're going to. Most churches offer some sort of outreach program. If you want to plan your vacation around giving, you can start with finding a church of your denominational choice. It's a route to finding ways that you can help.
5. Work locally and on vacation. If your passion is Junior Achievement or Big Brothers Big Sisters, start with your local organization. When you go on vacation, if you want to spend some time giving back, you can use local contacts to reach out in other areas of the country.
Philanthropic travel doesn't have to mean huge dollar amounts - it's what you can give, be it time, money or items - and it can be a wonderful way to share your love with others.