One interesting trend to emerge in recent years is the growth of so-called voluntourism, whereby travelers spend their vacation time helping others rather then pampering themselves.
To extend this spike in altruism to well-heeled travelers, a Raleigh, N.C.-based nonprofit organization called Pack for a Purpose has partnered with Luxury Link, an online travel site that works with travel agents, to encourage vacationers to give back without giving up too much.
The idea behind Pack for a Purpose is to ask travelers to replace five pounds of space in their luggage with items needed by schools and medical facilities in such destinations as St. Lucia and Nicaragua. Luxury Link is working with select hotel partners, including several RockResorts properties, to promote the program, and the hotels become involved by delivering the donations directly to the organization. Through Pack for a Purpose, guests can also visit the donation site themselves.
"Five pounds equals a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 Band-Aids; or five deflated soccer balls with an inflation device; or 400 pencils," said Pack for a Purpose founder Rebecca Rothney.
At the Landings St. Lucia, a RockResort in Castries, Saint Lucia, for example, participants will see the supplies they bring go toward a charity called Grow Well, which runs social programs for youth in crisis in Gros Islet.
At Balcones del Atlantico, a RockResort in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, guests can help a school in one of the poorest areas of Las Terrenas.
On May 17, Luxury Link will launch a series of 40 travel auctions with a portion of the proceeds donated to Pack for a Purpose, culminating in a sweepstakes in July.
To learn more about Pack for a Purpose or to get involved, you can visit www.packforapurpose.org. For more on Luxury Link, go to www.luxurylink.com.