Looking outside the window I see large, fluffy snowflakes falling. It is nothing like the snowpocalypse DC saw last year, but it is a far cry from the 70 degree temperatures I enjoyed while visiting New Orleans over Christmas. With more snow in the forecast, I can’t help but let my mind wander to warmer places and things- like where we will have our honeymoon.
People initially gave us some room to settle into our engagement, but that period has seemingly ended. We are now being asked about everything from where we are registering to what color linens we will be using at the reception, but the most popular questions thus far has been- where will you go on your honeymoon? This question is usually followed with information on where they went and an extensive critique on the resort they stayed at, which is in most cases welcome information.
Gone are the days for the most part of the modest Niagara Falls retreat. Now as many couples are getting married later, they now have the means to go to remote, exotic locales- even Hawaii has been replaced in some cases by Bora Bora or Fiji.
While some people's vacations have gotten more and more extravagant, others have opted to get back to the basics and make a difference through voluntourism. The basic premise is that while you are enjoying a trip to a foreign locale, you can also give back. In fact, VolunTourism.org offers some great examples of trips that you can take in order to help others.
|"Voluntours" clearing trails in Maui.|
There are dozens of websites dedicated to voluntourism and even more articles on the subject. This is due, at least in part, to the broad range of trips available. In Travelanthropist.com's article "5 Great Voluntourism Trips in 2010," the trips featured range from an environmentally focused escape in Iceland to trip involving work in a Serbian orphanage. Look for even more trips on the Travelanthropist website.
While voluntourism has gotten more and more popular as a vacation alternative, recently it has also become a trend for honeymooning couples too. A popular option for some couples is splitting their honeymoon into a half service and half relaxation hybrid. Essentially, couples can opt to help build a well in a rural village in Thailand one week and then sit and sip Mai Tais by the infinity pool in Bali the next.
Couples interested in giving back should find out if the locale they are visiting is near an area in need or one with a voluntourism community project. I've seen firsthand what a difference just a day of voluntourism can do for a place. The groups that came to New Orleans aided the city's recovery not only with their tourism dollars, but also with their hard work. In my November 24, 2010 blog "Location Location Location," I mentioned Friends of New Orleans, a group that brings volunteers to new Orleans to aid in the city's recovery.
Here are just a few more web resources for planning your voluntour adventure or honeymoon from Project Wedding.com's superb article on humanitarian honeymoon's:
- GlobeAware coordinates and leads volunteer vacations to two Peru locations (Andes & Cusco/Machu Picchu), Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Jamaica, Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and China.
- Global Volunteers offers service programs that allow you to give back while living and working within a local community for one to three weeks.
- Cross-Cultural Solutions works side-by-side with local people in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, or Latin America and offers volunteer opportunities at 20 sites in 12 countries.
- Hands On New Orleans is another group that is trying to make things right in the Big Easy- one volunteer at a time.