As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, people will be itching to travel. Already, there are signs that pent up demand for air travel is uncorking in the United States. Economists predict a population nearing 60% vaccinated and flush with government stimulus will generate an economic renaissance unlike anything seen since the post-World War II era. If this is true, expect the travel and tourism sector to take off. Fortunately, travelers now have options, such as humanitarian tours, which provide a perfect balance of volunteering and tourism.
Are you someone who likes to give back? Is life so much more to you than what’s inside your personal bubble? Do you feel compelled to act when you learn of poverty and environmental degradation in the world? If this sounds like you, then you might be a perfect candidate for humanitarian trips.
We all go on vacation. Humanitarian trips are like vacations, but they include an element of giving back to the local communities in which the trip is hosted. Humanitarian trips represent a powerful way to bring tourism and volunteerism together. Not only do those who go on these trips get something valuable out of it, but it also improves the socioeconomic situation of locals who participate in the activities the trips arrange.
Humanitarian trips are essentially vacations that matter. Instead of spending all day pumping out flashy Instagram stories and spending your days lounging with a drink in hand, humanitarian tours immerse you in activities that provide you with a sense of meaning. Hybrid trips effectively combine elements of volunteerism and tourism.
Here at Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours, for example, we spend lots of time working with local communities, bringing donations, and volunteering our time with kids. But we also take some time out on our trips to have a little fun, whether it zip-lining aside Lake Atitlan, visiting Mayan ruins, ascending an active volcano, or doing some shopping in local markets. After all, these experiences should be a fusion of the humanitarian with the tour.
If you are researching your vacations options through a simple Google search, and do a search for “humanitarian trips,” you will see that there is no shortage of opinion on the efficacy of this type of tourism. The reason is not that humanitarian trips in and of themselves are problematic, it is the type of trips some organizations undertake. Some take a more political or cultural viewpoint.
One argument is that “voluntourism” and other types of service vacations where you help others can be paternalistic in nature. There is an impression that foreigners know how to fix local problems better than the locals do. Working closely with local communities dispels that myth. When you embark on one of our humanitarian tours to Guatemala, you can expect us to rely on those in the community to tell us what they need the most. The last thing we are is anyone’s savior. We are merely there to give back as best we can and share our fortunes in life with those less fortunate.
Cultural sensitivity is also a concern. It is important to ensure before you set off on the trip that expectations are set. The group must understand the local and cultural dynamics in the lands they visit. When visiting Guatemala with one of our groups, expect to go through a thorough debriefing before, during, and after your trip. This helps you not only to better interact with the community but also helps you better assimilate what you have learned.
If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we are all people living on this planet trying to survive and be happy. We may not all look the same on the outside, but on the inside, we are virtually indistinguishable. Being a human is what binds us all, and it is that very humanity that humanitarian tours reach out to. How willing are you to go outside of your comfort zone to help others?
Today, there are many millions of people all over the world with no access to what we take for granted. From clean water to nutritious food and a roof over their heads, afterthoughts for the Western world are the hopes and dreams of many in the developing world. And where does proper healthcare and an education fit in when the most you can do is try to find something to eat and somewhere to sleep at night?
Left without government support, many poverty-stricken communities and marginalized groups struggle to simply get by. Non-profit humanitarian organizations like ours exist to fill those voids. We came to be solely to help alleviate poverty, help families, and improve people’s prospects in life. This is our mission in Guatemala.
You can share your good fortune and join with others to help those less fortunate than you. It feels good to know you play a part in the alleviation of human suffering. Humanitarian tours and aid projects provide you with a sense of pride. Interested in joining us on one of our humanitarian tours to Guatemala? Contact us today and we will be happy to give you a personal walkthrough of our organization and how you can make a difference.