Category Archives: Philanthropic Travel

‘Tis the Season of Good Travels with Ripple Effect Journeys

Bea Evans, Ripple Effect Journeys founder, received her Good Travels Advisor certification on November 23, 2016. 

The Good Travels Advisors (GTA) program from Tourism Cares is a training program and learning community of travel agents committed to promoting good giving and good volunteering among travelers. Effective giving and travel fulfills the good intentions of travelers, boosts trip satisfaction and connections, and increases the benefit to local communities.

We invite you to join the Ripple Effect Journeys community.  Subscribe to our blog or join in on Facebook.  Travel with like-minded women.  Experience the wonder of new places.   “See” a destination beyond the sights.  Learn about issues impacting women and girls in countries you visit.  Explore the meaning of learning service.  Discover how you can make a difference by supporting someone’s journey.   It’s fun, it’s memorable, it’s “good travels”.

Good Travels Advisor
‘Tis the Season for Good Travels!

Inspiration and tips for an especially meaningful holiday.

As a certified Good Travels Advisor, I am delighted to share a particular magic of the season – the smiles, joy and caring that comes with giving to others.

The job of a Good Travels Advisor goes beyond superb travel advice and service – we are also guides to meaningful experiences and giving in the communities we hold dear, near and far.

Here are 6 special ways to celebrate the giving spirit this year!

1. Looking for beautiful gifts that also make a difference? Here’s a very special list of 7 items that also directly help a cause, whether its breast cancer, Cambodian girls, anti-trafficking, endangered species conservation, and more – choose one gift and cause, or all!

2. Discover the surprising way you can actually buy happiness, along with other TED Talk inspiration. Watch Michael Norton on How to Buy Happiness; spoiler alert — the key is not to buy for yourself but to give to others, with great stories and data to prove it! Also check out Bill and Melinda Gates and their reflections on wealth and giving, starting off with an anecdote about their very first trip to Africa.

3. Find your favorite quote on giving while sipping some egg nog, scotch or tea. Peruse this list of philanthropic quotes from the National Philanthropic Trust, which includes James Baldwin: “We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.”

4. Give yourself and give for others. Here’s a list of 12 surprising charitable giving options that will likely tickle anyone’s curiosity and inspire you to explore and act, in addition to what you may give to your favorite organizations and in your hometown community. There’s also a shorter list for engaging your kids!

5. Use the new year to revisit your giving overall, along with your resolutions. Your guides include “How to be smart about charitable giving over the holidays” and tips from Guidestar, the national nonprofit database.

6. Think about giving back to a destination you care about, or a place following a disaster. What are your favorite places far from home, domestic or overseas? Think about the special experiences you’ve had in the last year or two and where you think you can make a difference, even with a small charitable donation. Think back to the nonprofits, museums and community organizations you encountered – or look up the local “community foundation,” a hub for local giving. It’s a great way to connect as a family and get back in touch with places you love. Alternatively, think of a place that was hit by a disaster this year; look into the latest and make a gift to the first one that comes to mind.

Good Travels Advisors make a differenceGood Travels Advisor Partners

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Philanthropic Travel Enriches The Journey

Philanthropic travel is a form of voluntourism.  A growing movement, voluntourism  is “the conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — arts, culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination,” according to     Tourism Cares recently published “Good Travels – the first study on the motivations and practices of charitably inclined travelers.” The infographic below highlights some of the report’s key findings.

philanthropic travel

Good Travels Study

How would you describe meaningful travel?  Is it something you think about?  If so, do you include yourself as part of the 41% who “had some form of meaningful interaction with a local community”?  Do you agree with the 64% who “felt giving back greatly contributed to trip satisfaction”?  I certainly do.  Here are a few examples of what that has meant to me.

Meaningful Travel In Guatemala

After joining The Ties Program team, I traveled to Guatemala with Adoptive Family Travel. At the time, my daughter sponsored a child, Catalina, through Children International. The organization kindly arranged for me to meet Catalina at the hotel where I was staying. Shortly after she and her mother arrived, I learned they had left their home very early in order to arrive at the agreed upon time. In fact, it was so early that they had not had time for breakfast. So with the help of Children International’s translator, I invited them to join me for a bite to eat at a local Burger King, a first for Catalina and her mom.

After our meal, I gave Catalina the gifts my daughter sent. While appreciative for the items she received, I sensed from Catlina’s quiet conversation with her mother that something else was on her mind. The translator seemed reluctant to share what was being said. After some gentle prodding, I learned that Catalina dreamed her madrina, or godmother, was going to bring her a bike. Clearly embarrassed by this request, the translator apologized for Catalina’s behavior. Apologize? Really? How often does one have the opportunity to fulfill a child’s dream?

Thanks to the support of the translator and others at the local office, we headed to a local bike store to make a little girl’s dream come true. As the bike was loaded into a pick-up truck, Catalina’s mother invited us to join them on the ride home. Driving up the mountainside, I prayed for Catalina to quickly learn how to work the bike’s brakes, while wondering if I should have purchased her a helmet. Eventually, the truck parked on a plateau overlooking a steep mountainside. An entire community of small of dwellings built of cement blocks and corrugated metal packed the area. As the bike was unloaded, a gaggle of excited children surrounded us. Proud of her new possession, Catalina led us down the mountainside, cutting through a few houses, as the driver followed carrying her bike.

The Gift of a Bike
I have returned to Guatemala several more times since then.  While there, I’ve enjoyed peaceful moments sailing on Lake Atitlan, people watching and shopping in Chichicastenango’s colorful market, and climbing the temples of Tikal – Guatemalan sights one shouldn’t miss. It was fun to see Catalina a couple more times, each time remembering our first visit and the trip to the bike store. My meaningful interaction with Catalina and her mother continues to enrich my memories of traveling to Guatemala.

Philanthropic Travel Benefiting Local Communities

Travel that engages your mind and heart leaves lasting impressions. For a number of years, I coordinated a group travel program for families to Paraguay. The tour often included a visit to a rural school. Many of the school’s students were children of area artisans associated with Paraguay Hecho A Mano. Over the years, families on the tour donated books, school supplies, and sports equipment to the school. They also donated funds used to build a library, bathroom facilities and an outdoor kitchen.

philanthropic travel

Thiodosia – a Paraguayan potter

The Good Travels study reports that 48% of travelers find “its very important for their spending and donations to benefit local communities” as part of their pre-trip planning. This certainly was the case for the families mentioned above. Meaningful travel opportunities for the group continued while visiting the home of Theodosia, a local artisan. Arriving by ox-cart, a typical form of transportation in this area and provided by local farmers, families sat in a circle around Theodosia as she created clay sculptures. Afterwards, they were invited to create a piece of pottery with Theodosia’s help. A great example of meaningful interactions with a local community member in a very hands-on way.

After this very authentic travel experience, families were able to “give back” by purchasing pieces of Theodosia’s work. Truly a win-win situation: Theodosia received direct support for the work she had done and travelers received unique souvenirs reminding them of the places they visited and the people they met.

Staying Involved After Travel

Last January, I traveled to Peru in preparation for Ripple Effect Journeys, a group travel program combining tourism and philanthropy. I have been to Peru many times, but wanted to visit with a focus on philanthropic travel.

From a tourism standpoint, the city of Cusco is an ideal place to stay. Nestled in the Sacred Valley, an area surrounded by the Andes Mountains, Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire. From here it is possible to visit a number of Inca ruins, including Machu Picchu. The area was eventually part of the Spanish Colonial Empire adding another dimension to it’s history, culture and traditions.

Equally important, my time in Cusco allowed me to spend several days with Danny Dodson, the executive director of Peruvian Hearts. Ana, Danny’s sister and a Peruvian Ties – Adoptive Family Travel alum, founded the organization in 2003. (She truly is an example of the 40% of the people mentioned in the Good Travels study who stay involved in a cause after traveling.) Peruvian Hearts recently expanded their mission to focus on  Peruvian Promise. A women’s leadership and empowerment program, Peruvian Promise strives to break the cycle of poverty through the education of young women.

philanthropic travel

Peruvian Promise Scholars

During my visit, I met a number of the Peruvian Promise scholars. They are bright young women encouraged by Peruvian Promise to dream about a future (something not supported for many girls around the world.)   But dreams happen only if goals are established and achieved. Peruvian Promise is there to provide the framework. The importance of education, as the key to success,  is stressed.  Leadership workshops, the guidance received from mentors, and opportunities to serve empowers the girls.  Getting to know them, visiting their homes, meeting their families and hearing their stories greatly enriched my Peruvian travels. These genuine conversations and authentic experiences gave me insight into the country beyond the sights.

As a result of my experiences, I have introduced a number of people to the mission of Peruvian Promise, encouraging them to join me in supporting their work through periodic donations. Doing so allows my trip to Peru to continue with meaning and purpose. According to the Good Travels study, I’m not alone in my desire to maintain connections as these after returning home.

*What does meaningful travel mean to you?
*How do you feel about traveling with a purpose?
*What are the causes you’d like to learn about or the activities you wish to pursue?

We look forward to hearing from you!


Bea Evans

Bea Evans

By Bea Evans
Founder, Ripple Effect Journeys

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