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Social Impact Travel
Social Impact Travel, Voluntourism, and Travel Philanthropy
 
Whatever you call it, the trend to give
back when we travel is growing. It’s been
said that travel changes people and
people change the world.  Why not help
change the world, even just a little,
while on your next vacation.  There are
ever-increasing opportunities to help
others while you travel.  You can spend
an hour or two teaching English at one  of
the ports on your cruise, or spend your
entire trip building a school for a
community that has never had one.
Locals teaching volunteers how to make water filters
Doug making a water filter for clean drinking water
A number of cruise lines now offer
philanthropic excursions, quite often for
free, on many of their voyages.  When
choosing what to see and do in each
port, you’ll notice options that might
combine a short walking tour of the city
in the morning with the afternoon spent
planting trees.  Other choices might
include helping to process recycled
paper, creating water filters for clean
drinking water, packing food at a food
bank, painting a house of worship or
community center, or dozens of other
options. 
Many travel companies have provided
funding to start schools and businesses in
developing nations around the world and
continue to support these enterprises
with both money and time. Not only do
they offer the initial grants to get these
projects started, but many supply
ongoing training and support. Once the
businesses are up and running, the tour
operators will bring their guests to these
locally owned stores and restaurants.
Having experienced several of these
projects firsthand, I can tell you it’s a
great way to get a real feel for the
local culture.
Happy face in Cambodia
There are also full scale voluntourism trips where the main focus is the community
service activity.  You travel to a city somewhere in the world, it can even be close to
home, and spend the majority of your time working on a larger project that will have a
huge impact on the people who live there.  You  get a fully immersive experience and
when you get home, you know that you have truly made a difference.
 
Teaching English to kids at school with personalized lessons
Like-minded people volunteering on a Fathom cruise
If you’ve never tried volunteering while traveling, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a
shot! Start with something small. Not only will it change the lives of those you help, but
it will probably change yours too.

-Doug Orens, Vice President, Plaza Travel

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