Globetrotting for Good
It's true what they say: "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer."
When was the last time you took a vacation? Not just a weekend getaway to an attraction reachable by car, but a full-fledged, far-flung adventure far away from everything you've ever known?
If, like most of us, it's been way too long since you last got your passport stamped, a couple of socially and environmentally conscious tour operators stand ready to make your next trip the most memorable one you've ever had, but not by indulging you in a five-star hotel where you're waited on hand and foot. Rather, in this scenario, you're the one doing the serving. Interestingly enough, the rewards are often immeasurable.
Cross-Cultural Solutions began as an idea sparked by founder Steve Rosenthal's trip through Nepal, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Jordan, and Israel. While in Kenya, he had the opportunity to work alongside a group of Peace Corps volunteers, and as it often does, it changed him. As of today, CCS has sent more than 30,000 travelers to countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, volunteering their vacation time to impact the lives of children, elders, those with disabilities and the extended community in general. Not surprisingly, the impact often works both ways, and volunteers emerge from their experiences absolutely addicted and anxious to plan their next trip, bitten by the bug of generosity and the need to make a difference.
Likewise, Me to We's story is oddly familiar: "More than a decade ago, Me to We’s co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, travelled by pack mule up a mountain in Ecuador to build a school for an impoverished community," the org's site explains. "What they discovered on that trip would eventually change their lives, and the world of business, forever." As such, half of the profits from its global volun-tourism services go directly to Feed the Children, a charitable partner that's built more than 650 schools and school rooms around the world since 1995, engaging more than one million children in educational opportunities along the way. Me to We also offsets its trips' carbon by planting trees via nurseries, planting programs and local environmental initiatives. As it flies folks around the world in the name of doing good, it, too, walks the walk.
The next time you're fighting the urge to hop on a plane to somewhere new, groups like CCS and Me to We hope you'll consider spending as much time giving comfort as you do receiving it, keeping the delicate balance of global citizenship in check. While wanderlust can be a beautiful thing all on its own, when paired with genuine service and human connection, the impression it leaves is more indelible than any vacation photo could ever capture.