Spending your time in a new destination just for major tourist sites is so last decade. More and more, travelers are looking to have deeper, more meaningful experiences when they go on vacation. In fact, experiencing a destination while giving back is so common now that there is an actual term for it: “voluntourism.”

To make it easier for you to make a difference when you travel, we’re highlighting fun and meaningful ways to give back in five major destinations.

New York, New York

New York is such a thriving, vibrant city that it is easy for a visitor to find a charitable event to participate in on just about any given day. If you want to gorge on delicious food for a good cause or watch Broadway stars take their clothes off for charity, New York is the place to go. The Big Apple is also home to the largest HIV/AIDS charity walk in the world. AIDS Walk New York has delivered more than US$139 million to GMHC, enabling the charity to work toward its mission of ending “the AIDS epidemic and uplifting the lives of all affected.”

Viewfinder Tip: Make sure to plan well in advance for big charity events like Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Accommodations and registration fill fast.

Walt Disney World®

One way to make your visit to the Magic Kingdom even more magical is to align your visit with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. When you register, you can choose from a bunch of charitable organizations. For instance, St. Jude Heroes is an organization that raises money to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “find cures and save children battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases.” 

Costa Rica

Major hotel brands around the world are making it easier for guests to experience a new location through volunteerism. One example is The Ritz-Carlton’s Give Back Getaways® voluntourism program that is rolling out across the luxury hotelier’s portfolio of properties. Another outstanding example is the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo’s Growing Together initiative, which encourages guests to participate in a wide range of curated volunteer activities. 


Lanai Cat Sanctuary


Las Vegas, Nevada

With so much to do in Las Vegas, it should come as no surprise that charity events abound. One of Sin City’s most popular charity events is the annual LV Santa Run supporting Opportunity Village. The Las Vegas holiday tradition draws major crowds (8,000-plus Santa runners) and some big-time talent, including the Chippendales. Think of how good you will feel about indulging once you’ve exercised and made a positive impact.

Lanai, Hawaii

The exclusive island of Lanai (just a quick day trip from Maui) is home to several sanctuaries. On one hand, you have the stunningly renovated luxury retreat Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay. On the other hand (or paw), you have the nonprofit Lanai Cat Sanctuary. The Lanai Cat Sanctuary feeds, shelters, and cares for the health of Lanai’s population of homeless kitties. It also provides visitors with a way to give back. Every second Sunday of the month, the sanctuary hosts 90-minute work parties with activities focused on maintaining the shelter.

How do you like to give back when traveling?

Header image provided by Walt Disney World.