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Explore the USA this Summer… and make a difference

Especially for those of you who live in the US, this is a great time to explore the US and discover the wonders in store. (Even if you live in the UK or elsewhere, the US is still a good option, if you can accept a quarantine period when you return home). In a post-lockdown world, some of the positive outcomes are increased interest in being sustainable and looking out for others, being caring and compassionate. These are fantastic and their effects for a brighter world future are not to be taken lightly. And you can travel this way, sustainably, compassionately, even in the US. Here are some ideas: 1. Head to New Orleans and renovate homes damaged by hurricane  You can make homes liveable that have been derelict for years and help families have the security of a home. On the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall.  The most severe loss of life occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighboring parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the hurricane and in the subsequent floods. Total damage was $81 billion. Ten years on, re-building work continues, and lives are still dislocated. You can play a part in helping the largely neglected, lower-income areas be restored, by assisting in the renovation and refurbishment of houses – beautifying them and restoring community pride. The people of New Orleans are among the friendliest you will find anywhere, and spending time getting to know them through your volunteering is sure to be a highlight you will treasure. In addition, the city itself is full of architectural and cultural treasures, which your local guide will be only too pleased to show you. Stay at sustainable luxe Jung Hotel on Canal Street. 2. Restore coastal habitats in the Bay Area, San Francisco Help restore unique San Francisco coastal habitat – plant, weed, maintain trails, collect seeds and more. You can help keep these areas beautiful. The sites feature California coastal scrub, shifting sand dunes, and coastal prairies–all in the backyard of bustling San Francisco. Over 100,000 plants have been planted, and plenty of work remains to be done to restore and maintain the native coastal ecosystems of this fabulous city. Volunteer activities focus on weeding in the Summer and planting in the winter, as well as seed collection, landscape beautification, and trail maintenance. Leave the concrete jungle behind, work outside beside the shimmering Pacific Ocean and majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Popular ways to round out your trip to California include hiking in Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, driving the legendary Big Sur, or savoring fine wine in Napa or Sonoma. Stay at Cavallo Point Lodge for eco-luxury style and bridge views. 3. Serve meals for the homeless in San Francisco Prepare and serve healthy nourishing meals to those who need it most. Help serve meals for a truly transformative experience. There are needs to help with the breakfast, prep, lunch, and dinner shifts. Your support allows 2,000 meals per day to be served to the San Francisco community members who rely on the meals program. You can assist with everything from serving food to bussing tables. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and make some meaningful human connections. Head to Alcatraz, drive down to Monterey and Carmel, or take a private tour of this fascinating city to complete your adventure. Enjoy eco-luxury in the heart of the city at the Fairmont. 4. Help disabled horse riders in Dallas

Riding for the Disabled is an incredible organization that focuses on the amazing benefits of equine therapy to bring lasting change to the lives of disabled people.

For example, the warmth and three-dimensional movement of the horse is transmitted through the rider’s body, gradually making the rider more relaxed and supple, reducing spasms and improving their balance, posture and co-ordination. These sessions are designed to enhance and improve physical, psychological and social abilities as well as provide recreational and educational opportunities.

“We’ve seen today kids that are in a wheelchair, be able to get out of that wheelchair and get onto a horse, and have that mobility, a huge smile on their face, and just have the time of their lives,” a volunteer said. “What Riding for the disabled does is just entirely unique. It’s a brilliant way to really help people who have intellectual or physical disabilities… You only have to look around and see how happy they are doing it, to see how good it is and what a positive impact it’s had on their lives.”

You can help in a variety of ways that includes horse interaction, stall cleaning and the opportunity to get your hands dirty with horticulture and facility projects.

You get to learn more about the human-horse bond that is created each day – and the positive results that are impacting the quality of life for over 1,200 clients annually. Horse trail rides along the Trinity River Corridor are also available on the neighbouring ranch.

Dallas has a lot to offer, as does Texas as a whole, such as Austin with its music scene, charming San Antonio and the Alamo, or head into the wilderness and explore Big Bend whilst staying at the sublime Cibolo Creek ranch. 5. Care for the homeless in Miami Volunteers are a vital part of providing all types of services in Miami. You can enrich the lives of the homeless men, women, and children that are being cared for throughout the year. Not only are the homeless and needy touched by the compassion of our volunteers, but the volunteers’ lives are also touched. Serving others is one of life’s greatest privileges. Reaching out to the least, the last, and the lost in a personal way that says, “I care about you” also brings encouragement to our residents and staff. Whether it’s serving a meal, tutoring a student, or working with the youth – you make a difference. Stay at one of the best examples of sustainable luxury: 1 Hotel South Beach and delight in the most happening part of this thrilling city. Next, hit Key West in the Florida Keys for barefoot luxury and explore Dry Tortugas National Park for sensational snorkeling. Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill is the Founder of both Hands Up Holidays and Impact Destinations. Hands Up Holidays specialises in sustainable luxury family trips that help kids appreciate how fortunate they are and inspire them to become future leaders by blending curated sightseeing with meaningful volunteering opportunities. For example, in Zambia, experience Victoria Falls, white-water rafting, safari, and help build a home for a widow and her children. Impact Destinations provides ultra-luxe sustainable trips that leave a legacy: a traveller’s philanthropic donation unlocks a unique experience. For example, whilst on safari in South Africa, fund and witness a rhino relocation from a heavily poached reserve to a safe one in Botswana. Christopher’s companies offer over 30 destinations worldwide and personally oversees every client’s trip.

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  1. I’ve only been to North East America before and Chicago briefly but I would definitely jump at the chance to go back. Admittedly I didn’t do anything morally wonderful when I was there but you’ve made some very helpful suggestions. I’ve helped in with serving meals for the homeless before as I’ve done that a couple of years now in the UK so I guess doing that in San Fran would be really interest to cross compare, and of course there are so many other ways of getting involved whatever you’re abilities and availability too.

    I think we can get very used to donating money or signing petitions and helping from a distance, but there’s something far more meaningful about doing something in person, about getting involved authentically and in the flesh to make a difference. It would make for a priceless trip with one of a kind memories too.

  2. Traveling is not only limited to exploring new places in different countries. It can also be used to help people and communities located in our destination. Taking part in activities like these can make our experience more memorable, fun, and fulfilling. It will not only make a difference but also create an impact on the people that we interact with and inspire them to do the same or think of something better. Most importantly, it can help diversify our perspective in life knowing that there are others who are in need and that we have the means and power to do something to help them improve their way of living. I hope that people who participate in these programs will never get tired of helping others and that we may be able to contribute to guiding those who are in need of living a sustainable way of life.

    1. Admittedly, I haven’t done much volunteering while traveling. But I think this post and what you said is an important message for maybe people like me to reconsider what it means to give back to the local community. I found this really inspiring, so thanks for your insight.

  3. I have done some volunteering with teaching ESL classes. But this really opened my eyes a little bit to make me aware that I am capable of doing more. I think getting into the habit of volunteering or being a little more selfless can go a long way in our world today. That’s great that you offered so many opportunities in the U.S. I’ll have to remember that when I go back there.

  4. I hope I’m right but the life-and-death pandemic may change people’s outlook on life. Maybe the crisis will make people see that there are more important things in life than earning money and owning goods. Focus might just switch to helping other people out. There are some really worthwhile projects here, giving the fortunate and blessed an opportunity to help those who have been less lucky in the cards that life has dealt them.

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