Brave New Worlds: What is Socially Responsible Travel?

People from developing countries who holiday in the more underprivileged parts of the world sometimes encounter a pang of conscience. They may wonder if there is not something exploitative or shallow in what they are doing.

It is surely this growing awareness of other cultures and a certain bad conscience in developed countries which has led to such a rise in alternative forms of tourism; to volunteering-abroad tours and so called socially responsible travel. More than ever before, people want to immerse themselves in unknown places but not hopefully at the expense of the region they are visiting. People seek not superficial experiences but experiences which will change them. Work experience and life experience which will help them foster and engage new perspectives.

Help Build a Village in Guatemala for Disadvantaged Children

IMG_71272-695x465The opportunities are diverse. All over the world there are worthy projects in need of willing labor. Why not travel to Guatemala and work on Project Somos. This ambitious project aims to construct a village for orphaned and abandoned children. A focus of the Vancouver based NGO, Compassionfruit Society, Project Somos has taken three years of fundraising to initiate. The land for the village has been acquired now and construction has begun.

A huge undertaking, the village will consist of seven buildings. Altogether it will provide homes for seven mothers and forty-nine children. The village will be eco-sustainable and energy self-sufficient. 28% of the tour cost will go directly into materials and labor. Surely this is an example of socially responsible travel!

Help Freed Elephants in Thailand!

Help Freed Elephants in Thailand

Northern Thailand has fabulous mountains and forests which are home to elephants. You will work with specimens that have been rescued from tourist camps where they have been overworked and badly treated. It is instructive as a tourist to see the dark side of tourism and to contribute something necessary towards alleviating the sometimes exploitive aspects of the trade.

You will spend your days with these magnificent animals, interacting and learning how to read their manner and behavior. You will assist in health checks and other duties which are crucial to the forest reintroduction program.

Socially responsible travel is about giving something back and living by example. This is not a luxury tour. It is on the ground. You won’t be staying in a plush hotel. You should expect accommodation to be basic and within a traditional rural community.

Help Remove Lionfish and Save a Habitat

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Is there a socially responsible way of holidaying on a private island in Belize. As it turns out there may be. Here the addition of a non-indigenous species has lead to the destabilizing of an ecosystem. Your mission in Belize will be to remove Lionfish from these pristine waters. Lionfish breed rapidly and consume juvenile groupers, parrotfish and crustaceans which are essential to the local environment.

Your duties will involve a good deal of diving, but tailored to your ability. The Caribbean is one of the most beautiful places to dive because of its high visibility range and low currents. For some this will be of scientific/ ecological interest, for some it will be an adventure holiday but in either case the participants will be doing a duty of service of the locality that they’re visiting.

Check this volunteer program here:

http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/removing-lionfish-belize

Observance of Respect

If there is a running theme behind socially responsible travel, it is the idea that you should not condescend to the regions who are visiting. You will come into contact with great poverty on your travels, much of which you will be powerless to do anything about. But you must demonstrate some humility and respect which in itself is worth something. All of the tours mentioned are available though Holidays for Humanity.

Click here to learn more about volunteering opportunities abroad.

Let hope spring up for the children of Guatemala

 Guatemala. Variously known as ‘land of eternal spring’ and ‘place of many trees,’ this exceptional country has a great heartbreak. It’s home to more than 340,000 orphaned and abandoned children: innocent victims of extreme poverty. Yet there is hope. We invite you to be a part of this hope by volunteering abroad in Guatemala, with a very special project.

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Project Somos is, at heart, a Children’s Village: seven homes, seven moms, 49 children. Land has been purchased and construction is finally underway. Organic agriculture will be a part of the Village and will provide food for the moms and children. The children will attend the local community school and their education will be augmented by music, art and leadership.

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There will be buildings for all of these activities, as well as a large playground and soccer field. This beautiful Village will be eco-sustainable with:

•  alternative electric generation
•  rain water capture
•  grey water recycling
•  solar energy

Help from volunteers is essential to make the Village a reality for these children. The time is now. Construction experience is not necessary. Lift up these beautiful, deserving kids and the brave moms who are rising to the occasion. Assist the directors and volunteers who have been a part of Project Somos for over three years. Will you take this tour of compassion and help build the Village? Specific projects include:

•  building Earthbag houses
•  gardens
•  playgrounds
•  pathways
•  fencing

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Working side by side with local workers and families, you will have the cultural exchange experience of a lifetime. You will never be the same and you know it. In fact, you will be a part of changing the lives of everyone involved. Will you risk it? Will you grow? Will you go? At heart, you are probably a compassion warrior. Perhaps we all are. But it is only when you take that step, that you find out all that it means.

We are not a charity, we are a business. We recognize that you are here, in part, because you need a holiday. So we have designed this volunteer package to include your home comforts. All you have to do is be a part of the creation of this home for abandoned children and their extraordinary new moms.

Approximately 28% of the tour cost goes directly to Project Somos for materials and labour. You get a break and return home refreshed in ways you did not think possible: a true renewal in your compassionate heart, for the children of Guatemala.

Know more about this volunteer program here
http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/future-guatemalan-kids

Yes to Yoga and Buddhism in Spain

Deep bow. This is the phrase that perhaps best encapsulates the serenity and honor of Buddhism.
Perhaps you’re a new student. Perhaps you’ve been walking in the ways of Buddha for a long time. You may well be a yoga practitioner wanting to embark on the path that is Buddhism.
yga1Deepen your knowledge; deepen the inner harmony you have been growing with our introductory Buddhism and yoga program. This may surprise you, but we can’t think of a better location than the scenic and serene coast of Spain, a wonderful venue for exploration of destination and of self.

yga2We have designed the bedrock of your wellness program to be four nights in premium beach-side accommodation. Awaken your spirit during your dawn yoga class. Invite peace during your dusk class. There are also meditation and breathe better workshops, as well as the daily classes on Buddhism.

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With humble teachers to guide you, you will gain a good understanding of this inspiring philosophy and dispel any myths that may be standing in your way. Have your questions answered, and engage in conversation with your fellow practitioners during four nutritious and hearty breakfasts, or on guided walks and bike rides.

Any time throughout your day, you will find an unlimited supply of water, infusions, teas, coffees and seasonal fruit. If you would like to sit a particular activity out, they are all optional. Your yoga program in Spain starts at the Thursday evening welcome reception: this is a long weekend with a difference.

You will be treated to a daily juice from the Juice Goddess, experiencing a mild cleanse in keeping with this little journey. Dinner is a delicious three-course vegetarian meal and we won’t skimp on the red wine: it’s a part of wellness too.

Here are some more details:
http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/yoga-beginning-buddhism

Explore the Countryside and Culinary Art of Spain

Slow Food, Slow Wine, Slow Walks

Imagine a romantic destination. Where is it? For many people, classically romantic destinations are often based in Europe. You don’t need to sell out to clichés, to appreciate why that is. For one thing, many romantically-themed movies are set in Europe, in the beautiful villages and countryside along the Mediterranean, where passion flows. There is no better example than Spain.

burgos_spainApart from the treasure trove of Spanish artists: El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, Dali and Cevantes, there is the passion encapsulated in the flamenco. At Holidays for Humanity, we specialize in romantic getaways and culinary workshops. In fact, this is our most popular time of year for these kinds of breaks. So you are not alone in thinking about a Spanish rose or two, or even a castle. Slow food, slow wine and slow walks afterwards are a part of our packages and culinary tours to Spain.

D1F8949-rgb2-600x395We invite you to take a culinary tour of the timeless Spanish wine region and villages of La Rioja, which includes the birthplace of Cevantes. You will visit the church of San Pedro and the monastery of St. Domingo de Silos and expand your senses at Spain’s famed ‘Museum of Wine’.

This well-designed, independent culinary tour includes a car rental, accommodation, and tours of the region’s most treasured cultural assets. Your six days includes continental buffet breakfast daily, as well as car rental with driving details and a suggested itinerary. Imagine the adventure…

Here are some more details: http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/spains-wine-castle-country.