Staying Wise, Staying Calm, And Looking Ahead

For any person who loves to travel, who loves the freedom of being able to go almost anywhere, who sees the world as a beautiful place to be explored — this is likely a time of some discomfort and uncertainty.

It is, of course, good to be wise. It’s smart to listen to experts and make necessary preparations.

Many of us are having to adjust our businesses, our budgets, our schedules — and for many of us, that might include huge changes to vacations, weddings, honeymoons, reunions, and other getaways we’ve been looking forward to for months.

I want to say: I’m sincerely sorry for the upheavals. I’m feeling them, too.

And I also want to say: there is hope, and there is so much great stuff to look forward to.

There will be a time when this uncertainty will be resolved and the fear will lift.

While we’re doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy — practicing social distancing, being conscientious about washing our hands, staying home, not touching our faces — we can also experience the excitement and joy of making future plans.

Four quick things to know about travel in the coming months:

  1. Many airlines are waiving change fees on all tickets booked for future travel.
  2. Amazing destinations are offering refundable packages, special offers, and extra freebies to those who book now. 
  3. This is a smart time to buy inexpensive trip insurance so you have the option to cancel and get your money back if things change before you depart. 
  4. It’s not too early to start dreaming, planning, and booking for 2021 trips!

Right now, it is a season of stillness, of staying close, of appreciating all that we have right in our own homes. It’s in our best interests to accept this temporary shift. We have a unique opportunity to be of service to one another in ways we maybe haven’t imagined before.

And just imagine how incredible it will feel, when the time is right, to stretch our wings, set off across oceans and mountains and miles, and make the whole wide world our home again.

I am sending all my best wishes for health, healing, happiness, and hope for you and your loved ones in the coming weeks and months! If you have any questions about your travel plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out here.

Sincerely,

Jenny

Voluntourism: Take a Trip, Make a Difference

The famous playwright Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.”

Those who travel know this well. The places we visit — whether it’s a state park near home or a safari in an exotic locale — have the power to change us in many ways, both simple and profound. We learn about ourselves and others, about being able to deal with uncertainty, about gratitude, about being in the moment and appreciating the world and extraordinary people around us.

What if your next trip could not only change you, but change the world for the better? Have you considered taking a service-centered vacation?

As our world rapidly shrinks due to connectivity and easy access to information, we are becoming more aware of life outside of our small, comparatively privileged bubbles. More and more people are asking how they can make a difference.

Also known as “voluntourism”, service-based trips offer the opportunity to spend your vacation time, skills, and dollars with those who need them most. They’re also great opportunities for kids (and adults!) to learn empathy and gain a perspective on today’s most pressing issues like global poverty, the environmental impact of climate change, the well-being of children, and conservation of animals and the natural world.

Here are a few tips to get you started and help you make the most of any volunteer vacation.

Go with heart, but plan with your head. Like any kind of travel, voluntourism is vulnerable to scams and fraud. I can provide you with names of reputable and responsible companies. Make sure you know what to pack, which vaccinations are required, which fees might apply, and what challenges (if any) might be present in the area or the work you’re about to engage in.

Look for opportunities that encourage relationship. It can be easy and somewhat tempting to pop in someplace, make an appearance, and then leave. Your feel-good emotions are triggered, and you don’t have to commit much of yourself to a place or a project. But that shortchanges both you and the recipients of your good intentions.

The website www.govoluntourism.org puts it like this: “A balanced engagement alternating between voluntary service and tourism activities allows for a reciprocal relationship with communities. The economic impact of tourism is blended with the social impact of volunteering: recipients become servers and servers become recipients.”

Know yourself. If you’ve never been exposed to extreme poverty or the pressing plight of some of the globe’s endangered species, be aware that trips like these can be extremely emotionally demanding. Talk to people, research, ask questions, and be prepared for what you might see and experience.

Especially where kids are involved, always opt for good training and a true time commitment. There are many people who have a deep heart for the suffering of children worldwide, and they want to do something to lift spirits and support good work. Again, look for reputable companies that understand the complex issues associated with working with children and other vulnerable populations. For example, breezing into town and spending an afternoon at an orphanage and then leaving the next day can be very distressing for kids who are already dealing with the pain of leaving and loss. A good volunteer organization will tell you exactly what is required of you to have the greatest positive impact on others’ lives — and you can decide if it’s a commitment you want to make.

Take time to rest and process. When your engagement is over, take at least few days before leaving to get to know the community you’re visiting better (many organizations will build this into your trip), to rest, and to write or talk about your experience with others. Many people are surprised by how life-changing these trips can be — in the best possible ways! — and it can take a while to integrate that new perspective into your everyday life.

Stay in touch. Even if you never visit that particular location again, it’s a good idea and can bring your experience full-circle if you stay connected to the organization you volunteered with. Sign up for newsletter updates; share photos you took; write a note or email a few times a year.

Looking for some more ideas? Check out books like this one, or check out this list to see more trusted organizations. The world is a big place — but you can make a big difference!

As always, I’m thrilled to be in a business that helps connect people with the best places and the best parts of themselves. If you’re ready to plan your next adventure, you can reach me simply by clicking here.