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Advice Giving Back Journal

Addressing The Privilege Of Travel

For many, seeing Instagram accounts full of gorgeous photos of exotic and distant places will always be just that – distant places. The colors, sounds, smells, experiences of physically being in those foreign worlds may be an experience only had by the people who can afford them. It is incredibly important to be aware of the privilege and honor it is to explore the world.

To be able to pick and choose most of the experiences we have is a privilege. To essentially see the best of a certain place without having to endure any of the “bad.” We curate trips to look idyllic, oftentimes without appreciating the realities of the destination as it exists before we get there and after we leave.

Let’s recognize the privilege of having the ability to take time away from work, to spend valuable time planning a vacation, and the overall financial impact traveling can have. Not only from a financial perspective is it important to recognize privilege, but also from a physical and mental perspective. If you are someone who does not have to worry about how to physically or mentally get yourself to and from a destination, this advantage may rarely be considered or appreciated.

My hope is that being aware of the ease and ability it takes to travel can help us to stay fully present and appreciative of our experiences – particularly with the hiccups that can happen. Delayed flights, lost luggage, too long or short of connections can be inconvenient experiences, absolutely.  However, if these experiences don’t completely drain your bank account, cause you to lose your job, or have any other damaging consequence, we can take solace in the fact that we get to do what some only dream of doing and seeing.

We know we may have opportunities and experiences others don’t have or won’t have. What can we do about it? Here are a few things to consider.

Be Real

Back to those amazing Instagram layouts with stunning color and beautifully dressed women with no one else in sight. I am drawn into these photos. I want to have that experience. I want to feel like I am in the perfect moment.

But how often are those pictures very carefully curated? My guess is that it takes a lot of work to make those photos look just right.

If you have time and resources to make these gorgeous shots – that’s fantastic! Keep at it! If not, know that photos are your memories of your experiences. It’s okay to be real in them.

When we are real in our pictures, we are real with the world around us. Perhaps some moments you may have a quiet moment in a stunning location. Capture it! And when you don’t, take in the chaos of the moment and all the imperfections that go along with it. When we acknowledge reality versus a created moment, we can share with others our genuine experiences.

Authenticity can help us to feel more connection. Not just to others but the places we see. And connection with others and the world around us is a vital part of understanding our privilege.

I am guilty of this. I want my Instagram to be impressive. I want to share with others my travels because they have shaped me and inspired me. And, I understand the incredible privilege I have in being able to do and see the world as I do. I believe the least we can do is be genuine and authentic when sharing our experiences.

Encourage Small Traveling

There is beauty and excitement in many parts of the world if we look for it. Yes, Cinque Terre, Cappadocia, Marrakech, Phuket Island are stunning gems in this world. And we can still fully appreciate the new distillery in central Wisconsin, the exposed brick buildings in northeast Minneapolis, or the big sky and plains in southern Oklahoma. Our adventures can include top name attractions, and they also don’t.

Travel and exploration does not have to be done on a large scale or thousands of miles away to count as vacation. There are cities or countries actively being torn apart by war, famine, or other crises. It is important to remember there is beauty there, too. 

Support Local Businesses or Causes

Doing some research to support local communities where you travel can be a great option. Markets where locals sell their produce or handmade crafts, or dining at restaurants that are not right in a city center can be ways to support individuals and families who may be impacted by tourism.

Depending upon your resources and time allotted, find local charities for causes you support in the areas you travel. This can be a long term travel goal for yourself! For example, if you are visiting an area that has been recently ravaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster, see where you can donate time or money for housing, food, or other necessities.

Recognizing our privilege can be uncomfortable. What is even more uncomfortable is not having privilege. Travel in itself pushes you out of your comfort zones. It can force us to feel uncomfortable, and this may be part of the reason why we love it. Personal growth is a fantastic side effect of travel. Now, let’s push ourselves further to be authentic and aware of the world around us while doing something we love.


Understanding and addressing the privilege of travel is something we should all aspire to do. Conscious travel and eco-travel ideas is something we’re incredibly passionate about… and we’d love if you’d check out our other posts on traveling consciously and mindfully here!

Giving Back Insider Tips Journal

10 Travel Resolutions To Make In 2019

It’s a new year, a fresh start. And with that comes small and mighty changes for all of us. As travelers, we can fall into the same habits of maneuvering through our adventures around the globe. But it’s time to adapt! Today, we’re sharing 10 travel resolutions we believe many travelers should aim to make for themselves this year. 

Find Balance With Our Screens

Is traveling unplugged possible? We definitely think it is. But we also know that finding a balance between documenting our travels through our screens and staying in the moment is tough. In 2019, we’d love to see more travelers striking a healthy balance between screen time and being present. 

Support Local Businesses and Makers

As travelers, a lot of our power comes from our wallets. Choosing to support local makers and businesses, family-run lodgings and spending money on goods that directly support the people of an area is power

Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Another huge power travelers hold is their ability to reduce waste. Between international flights, gasoline on long road trips, single use plastic coffee cups every day – travelers really accumulate a lot of stuff in their trips. Embracing a conscious approach to travel teaches explorers about their impact on the environment. And we’d be thrilled to see more travelers become aware of their impact on the earth!

Master Our Photography Style

Photographing our travels is a skill we should all aspire to master. After all, no matter how many beautiful experiences you accumulate, you’ll only be left with memories… and pictures. Making our photos abroad shine isn’t necessarily difficult – it just takes practice. So why not take the time to develop your personal style of documenting your adventures

Research Local Customs and Traditions Before Take-Off

Being informed on the cool, quirky and respectful traditions of your destination not only connects you to a place in a deeper way, but it also makes you a better traveler. Look into traditional meals, lifestyle quirks and cultural details a tourist might overlook. Find yourself feeling a closer kinship to your destination. Instead of flying on a whim and figuring out the nuances and lifestyles of the locals – we’d love to see more travelers researching customs before they land. 

Practice Gratitude More Often

It can be hard for travelers to practice mindful gratitude in between the hustle and bustle of layovers, homesickness and busy itineraries. Finding little moments every day to say “thank you” for everything requires quiet moments, and stillness – something all travelers struggle with scheduling for themselves. But we’d love to be able to practice gratitude and thankfulness regularly and often throughout our adventures. 

Find More Hidden Gems

We’ve preached our love and devotion for finding hidden gems and small towns – but we’d love to see this take on in the travel industry! Bringing tourism into unknown areas that could hugely benefit from the income can make a big difference in the economy. And there’s nothing like finding a charming place unrecognized by the masses. It feels like the perfect little secret a traveler can keep! 

Connect With Nature

Nature’s power is overwhelming. But many travelers don’t find themselves booking trips solely to reconnect with its beauty. Finding peace and strength in exploring the wild areas of our world is an incredible fete… and can really benefit ones’ mental health. That’s why connecting with nature is a travel resolution for the new year we’d love to see become more popular! 

Embrace Slow Travel

Slow travel is trips centered around prolonged, in-depth experiences. Extending your time in one place solely creates deeper relationships and memories. For adventurers with limited vacation time, long term travel may seem out of the picture. But remember, slow travel is about slowing down your itinerary and enjoy the simple moments. Change your plans  to serve more of one community and less about “must do” activities. Dig deep. We’d love to see more travelers embrace this travel philosophy! 

Finally Master Packing Our Carry-On Luggage

The struggle is real – even for us pros! Our personal goal for the new year… master packing our carry-on luggage once and for all!


What are your travel resolutions for 2019?

 

Giving Back Travel Planning

Explore With Purpose: 13 Meaningful Travel Experiences

Can travel help a person grow? Can adventure push us to experience more meaning? We think yes. Today we’re rounding up fifteen creative meaningful travel experiences – made to push boundaries, develop ourselves and discover more through our adventures. Let’s do this!

Ancestry-Based Adventure

With ancestry research companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, understanding your family’s lineage is easier than ever. Discover your past and your family’s history… and discover a side of yourself that you never knew. Think of how fascinating it would be to have your own two feet on the same lands as your ancestors!

Travel To Learn

Education, like travel, is a limitless endeavor. What is it that you always wanted to learn? Is it to learn the Japanese art of ceramics or to be a student in the historic halls of Oxford? Do you long to educate yourself on art history while surrounded by Italy’s ancient relics? Traveling to learn is a meaningful journey for your mind and spirit.

 

Disconnected Travel

In today’s modern world, traveling without the digital convenience may seem like a backwards way of maneuvering around the globe. But with the continuing rise of digital detoxes, traveling disconnected is a true challenge for the mind. Our strong desire to constantly be entertained by our screens is a crutch only a select few can push themselves towards overcoming. Reconnect with yourself and feel closer to nature and your surrounding environment.

 

Extreme Physical Demands

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Trek through the wild forests of Germany? Pushing yourself physically is one way to exceed your expectations and feel one with the capabilities of the human body. It’s amazing what we’re capable of when pushed to the extremes. And the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a journey of a lifetime is incredible!

 

Long Term Trip

Traveling for a week-long holiday is a completely different experience than traveling long term. Leaving behind your well loved hometowns, the places you’re most familiar with, and embracing the unknown is life changing. A long term trip redefines what “home” is to a person.

A Trip To Learn A Language

There’s no better way to learn something new than to immerse yourself in it. Fancy yourself a Spanish speaker? Travel to Spain or Southern America! Always been infatuated with the Chinese language? Spend some time in China! As much as language learning apps and classes can teach a person – there’s nothing quite like attempting (and often failing) to translate in real life.

Creative Excursion

Learn from the artistic masters around the globe. Going on a creative excursion gives us the time and the purpose to learn an art we otherwise thought we were incapable of doing. Learn how to weave, paint, act, photography, dance (or whatever else your heart fancies), from the artists you respect most. So many amazing workshops hosted around the world are popping up! Do your research and book that trip – you might be the next Picasso!

Volunteer

Give back. Volunteering gives our travels an added element of meaning – no matter what capacity you give back.

Reconnect With Nature

Nature has the innate ability to feel at peace and one with ourselves. A walk in the wild, whether it be for an hour or for a few days, quiets the mind and gives us connection to the world and our minds. Soak in the beauty of our globe. Push yourself to use the natural elements that surround you as a propeller to discovery and wonder. Book a trip to a remote cabin, go hiking, or camp in the wild – the possibilities are seemingly limitless. Nature beckons… answer its call.

 

A Road Trip Of A Lifetime

We’ve all dreamed of the perfect road trip, but have you ever considered that this type of trip could give you more purpose than a regular trip? Taking yourself on the road gives you the ultimate freedom to decide your itinerary and feed your fantasy. See an epic sunset? Pull off on the side of the road and soak it in. Heard about a quirky site you think is hilarious? Give you inner comedian the laughs you crave. Road trips give us the freedom most trips don’t offer. Determine your course and follow it through!

 

Overcome Your Fears

Ah… the ultimate meaningful trip. Book a trip that pushes yourself to overcome your deepest fears. Afraid of heights? Book an excursion to sky dive or scale the highest mountains. Afraid of sharks? Go deep sea diving or go swim with them. You get the idea. Intentionally deciding to push your limits in this capacity gives you the inner strength to accomplish what you fear most… giving you empowerment like you’ve never felt before. Be fearless!

Foodie Trip

Fill your spirit and your stomach. A foodie trip with lots of goodies to devour can give travelers a deep and personal look at the traditions of cultures unlike their own. They say that food has the magical ability to bring people together. See for yourself. Book a cooking lesson to learn the traditional meals and flavors of a far off destination, or create your own foodie itinerary filled with local favorites.

 

Solo Trip

Last but certainly not least, a solo trip! We believe that solo adventures give travelers the unique experience of learning about themselves in more ways than they could ever expect. Venturing this globe on one’s own teaches travelers about their own courageousness, patterns of thinking and just how capable they are independently.


Have you ever done any of the above trips?
What did your experiences teach you?

Food Giving Back

A Look At Thanksgiving Traditions Around The World

As an American, thinking of Thanksgiving brings about images of turkey, pilgrims, football and cornucopias decking the dinner table with overflowing treats, friends and family nearby. But the notion of Thanksgiving, the celebration of harvest, community and ceremonial festivals, transcends beyond American borders. Around the globe, thanksgiving traditions are celebrated yearly – bringing unique traditions, delicious meals and storied folklore to be revered and relished in. Today, we’re taking a glimpse into the thanksgiving traditions around the world. Join us!

Korea: Chuseok

Celebrated on the 15th day of 8th month in the lunar calendar, Chuseok is the harvest celebration and three-day holiday in South Korea.

For this harvest festival, Koreans return to their hometowns to honor and practice traditional rituals and pay homage to their ancestors. Families gather to offer food, drinks and harvest crops before cleaning the tombs of their family members… an act of service and honor for those who have left this world.

What’s on the table during Chuseok you ask? Dig into to Japchae, bulgogi and rice cakes… amongst many other treats!

Germany: Erntedankfest

This religious celebration on the first Sunday in October translates to “Thanksgiving Day” in German.

The day encompasses multiple church services, where members give thanks for a year’s worth of harvest and grain by bringing woven baskets of fruits, grains and vegetables to be blessed. Then, these foods are given to the poor. After mid day services are completed, latern parades, known as laternenumzüge, are hosted in the evening for children.

What’s on the table? Mohnstriezel, a sweet bread sprinkled with poppy seed is a traditional treat made for the day of celebration!

Malaysia: The Kadazan Festival

The Kadazan Festival worships rice as an “extension of the Creator,” giving the world’s people life and sustenance.

According to Malaysian beliefs, the Creator Bambaazon, generously facilitated life of on Earth by sacrificing his daughter in order to save the world’s people from famine. He buried her body throughout the land, which became the seeds of rice paddies throughout the country.

Today, Malaysians honor the story of their creation and the belief that rice gave them life by celebrating a day of thankfulness to their Creator.

On the days of The Kadazan Festival, Malaysians decorate with bright colors and fill their cups with rice wine, take part in buffalo races and agriculture shows.

Ghana: Homowo Festival

The Homowo Festival, known as the “Festival Of The Yams,” commemorates the famine and a deeper hope to never experience anything like it again. The festival encompasses planting of crops right before the rainy season and includes parades, face painting, animal masks singing and traditional dances.

Families come together with hope and excitement to bring the largest crop in their community. Everyone in the village shares their bounty and yams are the prized treat to feast upon.

Barbados: Crop Over

This traditional harvest festival in Barbados starts in June and ends on the first Monday in August – a long and fantastic national festival.

Its beginnings go all the way back to the sugar cane plantations in 1687, when slavery still existed!

Similar to Carnival, Crop Over features dancing, feasting, drinking and calypso music competitions, amongst other long-held traditions like climbing greased poles, street parties, food tents and more. This colorful, festive and fun harvest celebration truly is a party unlike anything else!

India: Pongal

Four days of festivities to mark “the beginning of the end” of the winter season in India. Now that’s something worth celebrating!

Every year on January 12th to the 15th, Indians gather to take part in a smattering of traditions. From bathing cattle, to feasting pongal (rice boiled milk – which is where the name of the tradition comes from!), to decorations of family’s floors using rice flour – many activities are abound.

On the second day of Pongal (the most important day), Indians throw their old, worn clothes into a fire, symbolizing “out with the old.” They then dress themselves in their new clothing to “bring in the new” – all while worshiping the sun god, Surya.

China: Moon Festival

The August Moon Festival is a thousand year old tradition in China centered around reflecting on the bounty of a good summer harvest, the moon’s light and the myth of Chang O, an immortal goddess who lives there.

This thanksgiving tradition focuses on gratitude and feasting, quite like many others! However, no Moon Festival is complete without Mooncakes – the flaky, semi-sweet pastries made famous from this celebration!

Vietnam: Tết Trung Thu Festival

This September/early October festival loosely translates to “mid-autumn festival” and focuses on the innocent, purity and sacredness of children. Practicing thankfulness for their children, the Vietnamese celebrate Tết Trung Thu by lighting lanterns, dancing traditional lion dances and feasting with friends and family alike.

United Kingdom: London’s Harvest Festival

This festival, organized by the Royal Horticultural Society many years ago, highlights the country’s best and brightest agriculturalists and growers. Each year in October, farmers show off their best produce, share gardening tips, and take part in contests while visitors and locals enjoy two days of merriment, apple tasting and feasting.

Israel: Sukkot

Sukkot, known as the “Feast of Booths” or the “Feast Of Tabernacles” is a religious holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei – normally between late September and late October.

This day of reflection for Jewish people focuses on the emotional journey the Israelites felt during their forty days of travel after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. The story referenced in the Bible is an incredible story of courageousness, diligence and faith.

Jewish people today celebrate the Sukkot tradition of gratitude for the Israelites faith during the week long festivities of special prayer services and delicious holiday dishes.

Brazil: Dia De Ao De Graas

Brazil’s Dia de Ao de Graas (or “A Day Of Thanksgivings”) began after the ambassador visited the United States over Thanksgiving in 1949. Just like the American tradition of expressing gratitude for a bountiful harvest, Brazil also celebrates on the fourth Thursday of November and serves turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Canada: Jour De l’Action De Grâce

Jour de l’Action de Grâce, known as Canadian Thanksgiving to Americans, is celebrated the second Monday of October. In celebration and thankfulness for a good year’s harvest and blessings of the previous year, family and friends gather to feast on delicious foods. The fun doesn’t last one day, though, in good ol’ Canada! During the holiday weekend, most serve their Thanksgiving meals on Sunday to extend the festivities!


We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Thanksgiving traditions around the world!

Isn’t it amazing to see just how similar all cultures practice gratitude?

Wishing you all a lovely Thanksgiving from America!

Giving Back

Donate Frequent Flier Miles To Refugee Families With These Amazing Organizations

So often as travelers, we are forced to grapple with the insane amount of privilege we have. It can feel overwhelming and quite impossible to grapple with the idea of just how fortunate we are in this world. For the Dame Traveler who’s accumulated frequent flier miles, we’re passionately excited to let you in on a way to give back with big impact.

Today, we’re sharing a few amazing organizations who are currently accepting donations of frequent flier miles to reunite immigrant families. We wholeheartedly believe in the efforts put forth by these organizations, and we hope you do too.

It all started with a simple, viral tweet sent out by Beth Wilensky, a law professor at University Of Michigan, who sent a list of suggestions for those who felt impassioned to help families in need after Trump’s Zero Policy took into affect. This tweet resulted in more than 7.3 million miles donated to Miles4Migrants, an nonprofit organization dedicated to using frequent flier miles and money to assist in relocating those displaced by war and persecution.

The process to donate to Miles4Migrants is simple enough – input your contact information, choose your donation from a list of travel loyalty programs and done!

It’s a user-friendly option to give back those frequent flier miles you simply don’t plan on using. We all know how expensive plane tickets can be. Imagine giving the gift of freedom and reunification to those in need. Don’t have any miles to give away? You can simply donate any amount of cash as well. Any little bit of help goes a long way.

Other great organizations accepting donations of frequent flier miles include Immigrant Families Together, Michigan Support Circle and United Airlines and Uber (who’ve partnered with FWD.us to donate transportation to detainees). Four other great options for those looking to give back! Plus, there are many other amazing organizations to assist parents and children separated by the border.

(It seems like every day there are more and more organizations assisting in this cause – so please add a comment for nonprofits and other resources we should know about at the bottom of this post!)

For the traveler who is able to give, we hope you consider giving and recognizing the social impact we have on this world. With enough thoughtful, caring, compassionate, open-minded and loving travelers in the world – we are able to recognize the need many people on our globe require.

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