October 20, 2017

What Good Did You Do on Your Last Family Vacation?

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

I went to lunch yesterday with the ever-fabulous Nancy Schretter of Family Travel Network (you can find her on Twitter at @kidtravel). While I loved hearing about how she started her company and her recent trips to New York and Puerto Rico, my ears really perked up when she started talking about her amazing non-profit, Together for Good.

Together for Good was formed to help individuals and families traveling abroad make a difference in the lives of children and teens at schools and orphanages. It’s not about giving money to non-profit organizations, but rather about the interactions and the experience of bringing school supplies, diapers, baby clothes and more to children in need, primarily those in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

It’s easier than you think to make a difference too, and so rewarding. I’m really hoping to be able to do something similar when we go to Puerto Rico next month. Just follow these six simple steps from Together for Good to make a huge impact on the local community while on your next vacation:

1) Find an Organization. If you’re planning a cruise or resort vacation in the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America, take a look at this list of destinations and find a non-profit organization in need near the city where you will be based or that is a port of call.

2) Contact the Non-Profit. Call or email the non-profit you choose to arrange a visit. When you reach out, be sure to re-confirm their needs so that what you plan to bring is actually what they can most use.

3) Collect Your Donations. Reach out to family and friends to ask for donations. If you plan to purchase items to take with you, hold onto the receipts and bring them with you. If school supplies are needed, a good time to get these supplies super-cheap is in July and August during the back-to-school sales, so keep your eyes open.

4) Speak with the Concierge or Local Tour Operator. Since many of these schools and orphanages are in remote areas (i.e., non-tourist locations), reach out to the concierge or local tour operator before you arrive to coordinate transportation.

5) Call Your Airline.  Some airlines allow extra baggage weight allowances for charitable donations. You may need a letter from the in-country organization to get the luggage waiver, so make contact with your airline at least one month before your trip.

6) Prepare for Customs. When you bring your donation items, you may need to pass through customs and make a declaration. Bring any receipts with you and declare your items as gifts, not as items you plan to sell. Customs regulations vary by country, so do your research before you go.

Have you done any kind of volunteering or made donations to local organizations while on a arecent vacation? I’d love to hear about your experiences, so leave me a note in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Together for Good

Leave a Comment

*