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What to Know Before You Go | Philanthropic Travel

September 9, 2013

As summer starts to wind down and fall begins, many find that it’s a great time to begin planning for next year’s travels. What places haven’t you been to? What would you still like to cross off your bucket list?

First Western Trust recently hosted a webinar discussing a popular trend in travel that combines your desire to do good with seeing a new part of the world: PhilanthroTravel.

As PhilanthroTravel (also known as VolunTourism) grows, we’ve found many of our friends, colleagues, and clients are interested in learning more about this experience and adding it to their travel interests.

We’ve identified five key points to consider before deciding what kind of PhilanthroTravel experience is right for you:

  • Where do I want to go? With programs all over the world, the first task is to identify places you want to visit. Maybe you want to take part in a conservation project for coral off the coast of Australia, or visit Kenya to offer support in a local clinic. There are opportunities everywhere, so what parts of the world do you want to see?
  • What are my minimum accommodation requirements? Some VolunTourism trips are much more rustic than others. Be sure to ask yourself what basic things you need to be comfortable like running water or a private room. Also consider the climates and if you have any particular food aversions or dietary restrictions.
  • How much of my trip do I want to dedicate to volunteering versus tourism? You can go on an excursion that includes a full week of volunteering, or you can do a mix of philanthropic work and travel. This is your vacation, so creating the balance that you want is important. Volunteering is extremely rewarding, but be sure to be realistic about what you want from this experience and how much time you want to dedicate to relaxation and tourism.
  • How sensitive am I to the issues? We all want to help but being culturally aware and self-aware is important. Most programs offer trainings before you arrive at the volunteer sites to help you better settle in with the culture. It’s equally important to ask yourself what you feel you can emotionally handle. For example, if you are volunteering in a hospital, how will it affect you to see children with a cleft palate? Asking yourself these questions is a critical step in selecting the right VolunTourism opportunity.
  • What volunteer service would I like to perform? Volunteering can span a wide variety of activities, so take stock of your service assets. Do you want to use professional skills such as medical knowledge or teaching experience? Would you rather help build houses for a community? Consider what help you can provide and what most appeals to you.

With these questions answered, you’re ready to explore different volunteering options. There are many resources available from organizations like Project C.U.R.E., Philanthropiece, and Habitat for Humanity, to individuals like Alexis Boian, First Western Trust’s director of philanthropic services, who would be happy to discuss opportunities in VolunTourism.

One of the most powerful aspects of philanthropic travel is its ability to combine two passions: volunteering and tourism. With so many interests competing for our time, it’s refreshing to take part in something that can be so meaningful for individuals and families and incorporate a love of adventure.

At First Western, we’re always available to help you come up with creative solutions to meet your objectives. Please feel free to reach out to your relationship manager or Alexis Boian at 303.531.8100 with any questions regarding your philanthropic interests.

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