Canadians are no strangers to volunteer work, ranking third in the 2014 World Giving Index, following Myanmar and the United States.
Voluntourism is increasing in popularity as it gives travellers the opportunity to experience destinations in a different, but helpful, way. This holiday season, Hotels.com suggests travellers spend a few hours giving back when on the road this year.
“We’ve seen the trend of travellers visiting communities to volunteer reach an all-time high,” said Taylor L. Cole, APR, travel expert for Hotels.com. “But consumers don’t necessarily have to travel far or plan a separate trip around philanthropic activities to make a difference – you can find a way to give back your time in just about any community you find yourself during the holidays.”
Tips for travellers looking to give back:
- Bring gently used shoes, clothes or toys to donate to a local shelter during your trip. Or donate your carry-on clothes instead of packing them to take back home.
- Collect your toiletries from recent hotel stays and donate to area shelters.
- Regardless of destination, visit the local mall and pick up some gifts for the hotel staff, cab driver orphanage, or community shelter.
Holiday travellers visiting the following popular destinations can find a number of ways to help:
As the most popular Canadian destination for domestic and international travellers, the city doesn’t disappoint during the holiday season with beautiful light displays, festive storefront windows, themed menus and its very own Christmas Market in the Distillery Historic District. For those looking to give back, the Yonge Street Mission has a range of positions for volunteers based on interests or skill sets and The Daily Bread Food Bank has locations around the city for non-perishable drop offs.
- New York City
A popular destination through the holiday season and the most popular internationally for Canadians, New York City is the ultimate location for travellers seeking – and spreading – holiday cheer. From Rockefeller Center’s massive Christmas tree, to the largest menorah in the world on 5th avenue, there are gentle reminders to give back to the community all over the city. While visiting, travellers can donate a coat at one of 280 coat drive drop-off locations across the city via New York Cares.
- Las Vegas
The second most popular international destination for Canadians, travellers can indulge in endless activities in Las Vegas, including volunteer opportunities. Visitors can volunteer a day or for just a few hours via one of the many programs and services offered by The Shade Tree, a shelter for women, children and their pets. If time is limited, guests can pick a toy or gift from the holiday wish list and seek one of their many drop-off centres through Dec. 19.
- Negril, Jamaica
Jamaica is an oasis for Canadians during the chill of winter. Visitors can amp up their trips by offering their time at one of Jamaica’s many schools, teaching children how to read, or by painting and repairing educational buildings. Jamaica is involved in a major voluntourism initiative to immerse visitors into the local culture, and help out local communities. Visitors can pick and choose from a variety of organizations at the Jamaica Tourist Board’s web site, VisitJamaica.com/volunteer.