Helping Others on Resort Vacations
Many families visit resorts in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico on their vacations. These parents have often told us that they would like to give back to others by helping the underprivileged children in these regions. Helping less fortunate kids on vacation is a meaningful way to emphasize the importance of sharing and provide insights into the lives of others around the world. Giving back to others also teaches important values to your children and can make a difference in the lives of kids who could urgently use your help.
It is so easy to give back to others while on vacation in Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. Our staff has located many schools, orphanages and other organizations in popular resort destinations such as:
- Cancun, Mexico
- Castries, St. Lucia
- Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas
- La Romana, Dominican Republic
- Mazatlán, Mexico
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Monteverde, Costa Rica
- Ocho Rios, Jamaica
- Nassau, Bahamas
- Negril, Jamaica
- Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and many others.
See the country links on the right-hand side of this page for more detailed information. Some resorts, such as Casa de Campo and Sun Village Resorts in the Dominican Republic, operate their own programs for their guests. Tour operators in Jamaica, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and other locations have also pitched in to help. In addition, we are sure there are hundreds of wonderful organizations that we haven't found yet that could use your assistance.
You can use the destination information provided here as a starting point for finding schools, orphanages and other organizations that you would like to help. Other good sources of information include the concierge or tour desk at your resort and forums on sites such as TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) that are often staffed by local experts. Resort staff members are another good source of information on schools and local organizations that might need assistance and in-kind donations.
Resort concierges and tour desks can also help arrange for transportation when you’re doing community service visits. On a number of our trips, we have found it helpful to arrange for transportation in advance with local tour operators that actively cater to socially responsible tourism activities. You’ll find some of those listings in the country destination directories located on the right-hand sidebar.
Whenever possible, it is also a good idea to contact organizations in advance to arrange for your visit and to check on last-minute needs. Some orphanages request advance contact if you would like to spend time with the children and only certain hours are available based on the children’s school schedules. Other orphanages are much more flexible and encourage visitors to stay and play for as long as they like. It’s highly likely, however, that with a little research, you will be able to find a school, orphanage or other organization that will provide you with a highly rewarding experience, and your efforts to give back will definitely be greatly appreciated.
When you bring donation items with you on your resort vacation, you will have to pass through Customs and make a declaration. The Tips for Traveling Abroad section of the U.S. State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) is a good source of information on Customs laws and rules for Mexico and the nations in the Caribbean and Central America. Customs laws are different for each country. We have always brought receipts along with us and have declared the items as gifts and not for sale, noting the names of the organizations to which the items were to be given. Others suggest bringing along a formal typed declaration form to show customs officers. So far, we have never had a problem and have not been asked to pay customs duties on our donations.
In addition, many airlines provide extra baggage weight allowances for charitable donations. If you are interested, check with your airline to see if they need a letter from the organization to which you are donating in order to give you a luggage waiver. Most organizations will be happy to give you a letter if you let them know in advance.
Enjoy your resort vacation, and consider the possibility of giving back to others when you travel. It is such a wonderful learning experience, and your family’s efforts will certainly make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children. You will receive a warm welcome and lots of smiles and hugs, and your family will be rewarded with lasting memories of doing good for others.