Vacations that Matter Blog

Lending a Hand: The Amal Restaurant

The Amal Restaurant is a project of the Amal Women’s Training Center in Marrakech, Morocco.  It was established to empower disadvantaged women through the culinary arts. The program brings together widows, divorced or single mothers, orphans, and women with little or no education, and enables them to develop essential job and life skills so they […]

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3 Reasons to Use a Private Guide

We’ve all been on those 40 passenger buses full of tourists (and their selfie sticks or ipads used as cameras). And don’t forget the tour guides with the microphones and flags who spew out all those facts and monotonous spiels you’ll never remember…. So before you jump on the tour bus, here are some reasons […]

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Back from Marrakech

Morocco’s “red city,” Marrakech, was as exotic as it sounds. There was no better place to spend time with family and friends celebrating a milestone. From staying in a Riad, to experiencing the famous souk markets, tradtional folklore song and dance, tantalizing cuisine, soothing hammam spa treatments, and much more, it couldn’t have been more […]

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Back from Egypt

Wow! We just got back from an incredible 16-day trip to Paris, Marrakech, and Egypt. Every time I travel, I’m even more grateful for the opportunity – not only to see the amazing sites, but to experienece the culture, meet the locals, and open our hearts and minds to better understand global humanity. Today, I’d […]

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Back from Canyon Ranch

When considering a Spa getaway, you may expect some fitness offerings, relaxing massages, and healthy food options; however, the depth of services from Medical to Spiritual at Canyon Ranch far surpasses the offerings of typical Spa resorts.   You can fulfill your continuing education credit (CME & CNE for physicians and nurses) with all their […]

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Lending a Hand: The Ability Bhutan Society

ABS supports special-needs children and their families. It provides early and direct intervention and assistance to children with various needs, to help them live independently in Bhutanese society. To learn more, visit http://www.absbhutan.org. The message on the wall when we entered ABS read, ” If people with disabilities can’t believe in themselves, or if others […]

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Back from Bali

Bali is the “island of the gods.” The Balinese practice of Hinduism is quite different than that of India. They do believe in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and you will see Ganesha and Shiva everywhere; however, the Balinese do not worship any deities. Their temples are simple structures with no idols. Life for the Balinese […]

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New Fathom Philanthropy Cruises

Fathom, Impact + Travel is Carnival Corporation’s new Voluntourism based cruise line that has launched itineraries to the Dominican Republic and Cuba for 2016. Here is a link to their website: www.fathom.org. The VolunTourism Institute shared their opinion on Carnival’s bold move. Here is their perspective: https://voluntourisminstitute.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/bold-voluntourism-move-by-carnival-will-critics-sink-its-fathom-bid/ And if you’re interested in seeing a sample […]

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Back from Bhutan

Ever told yourself you just “want to escape?” To be surrounded by nature’s beauty, unblemished by our modern world? Such heavenly escape can only be found in Bhutan, the Dragon Kingdom in the valleys of the Himalayas. Isolated from our fast-paced world, Bhutan is where tradition and culture are immaculately preserved.   Nature and society are […]

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Back from Costa Rica

I hope you’ve had a fabulous summer. While I took a break from sending you my newsletter this summer, I certainly didn’t take a break from exploring new opportunities to enjoy a Vacation That Matters. I had a wonderful opportunity to end the summer with a 10 day vacation to Costa Rica. It was a […]

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Housing From the Heart

Do you remember your first home? No matter how big or small, old or new it was, the memories of your first home will likely be treasured forever. So imagine if you had an opportunity to make the dream of a home a reality for someone and you were invited to the house warming party! Today, […]

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National Volunteer Week

In honor of National Volunteer Week, I’d like to acknowledge the amazing ways in which people throughout our Nation give their time, money and expertise for the benefit of local and global communities and organizations. As a Voluntourism specialist, I often work with people who share my passion for volunteering throughout the year and specifically […]

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Our family is growing

Yes, we are adding a member to our family this holiday season and we are really excited about it. And, NO, we are not expecting a baby. But we have sponsored a child in Kenya, Africa through AmericaShare.org and we can’t wait to meet him or her. Tis the season to share gifts with each […]

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Family Philanthropy that Doesn’t Compromise Luxury

I often talk to people who wonder how you can combine a traditional family vacation with volunteering. In many cases, the perception is that volunteering abroad can only be done if you have weeks or months to dedicate to a cause or project, and that you have to stay in very basic accommodations. Although this can be […]

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Back from Turks & Caicos

We are back from Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean and we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day sharing our love with family, friends, and the children of Enid Capron Primary School. As planned, we spent most of our time enjoying the beautiful beaches and activities at the Beaches Resort. I took the resort dive course […]

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Leaving a Legacy

Happy New Year! This year for me has started with thoughts of leaving a legacy as I cherish memories of my grandma and two friends who just lost a battle with cancer this week. As my brother shared,”To live in the hearts of those you leave behind is to live forever, ” so we can all live forever in the […]

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Voluntourism in Vietnam and Cambodia

I can’t believe it’s  been almost two weeks since we got back from our vacation to Vietnam and Cambodia over Thanksgiving, and the experience was certainly something to be thankful for. As I reflect on our recent journey, I’m so excited to share the different aspects of this vacation experience including the amazing sights, culture, cuisine […]

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Happy Thanksgiving from Cambodia

Dear Recipient, I’d like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are enjoying your time with family, friends, and loved ones as I am here in Cambodia. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for as I spend time with my family experiencing the sights, sounds, culture, and history of Vietnam […]

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Building a playground for children in Haiti

Here is a story by Andrew Martin of his volunteer work with an amazing Christian non-profit organization called Kids Around the World. Kids Around the World helps children and families who have been affected by war, poverty, illness, and natural disasters. They provide nutritious meals, teach bible studies to education workers, and build playgrounds for […]

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Newsletter-Unique Opportunities III

Message from my Heart In the last two newsletters I shared two very unique opportunities  Part 1 and Part II to volunteer and serve others while on vacation (also known as Voluntourism) in Peru. Today I would like to share the experience of our final service project through GlobeAware that we participated in during our […]

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How Volunteer Work Abroad Gave Me the Experience of a Lifetime

Do you ever think about how much we often take for granted? Warm running water, a roof over our heads, food, new clothing, access to medical care, our physical abilities? I know I often overlook these things. I had a reality check when I decided to volunteer in Ghana, Africa, with the NGO Unite for […]

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Newsletter-Unique Opportunities II

Message from my Heart This experience was especially touching for me because in May 1997 I was involved in an accident which left me millimeters away from being paraplegic. I count my blessings daily for the medical facilities, doctors, nurses, countless hours of therapy and rehab that I had the privilege of having access to. […]

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Newsletter-Unique Opportunities

Message from my Heart I know it’s been a while since my last newsletter, but I hope that you have had a great summer. I’ve had some very unique opportunities to experience giving and quality family time with my immediate and extended family this summer.Starting with a service trip to Peru in South America with […]

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Day 2-Vancouver, BC

We were really excited that it wasn’t going to rain today and we could spend the day going up to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. We took the free shuttle (as long as you have purchased the Gondola ticket) from Canada Place to the base of Grouse Mountain where you board the Gondola. […]

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Visiting Seattle and Vancouver, BC

I’m not sure how many of you have made last minute plans for a quick getaway or vacation, but my family made some very last minute plans to visit a cousin in Seattle and while we are doing that, why not drive upto Vancouver, British Columbia. So, here we are. We flew into Seattle yesterday […]

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Day 7- Final Day in Cusco

We were up bright and early today for our final service project day. We were only going to be at the Albergue for half a day so that we would have the afternoon to experience the sights of Cusco, do any last minute souvenir shopping and pack since we have an early morning flight back […]

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Day 6- Service Project at Albergue in Cusco

We left the Sacred Valley this morning for our final two days of service projects in Cusco. We arrived at the Albergue, a home for 22 children between the ages of 10-18. Most of them have parents who live on farms and in villages that don’t have access to schools, nor can they afford them, […]

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Day 5- A free day to experience different activities

Today was a free day for families and individuals to experience whatever activities they wanted. Several people chose to ride ATV’s through the scenic mountains. Others chose to try paragliding, but since it is dependent on wind conditions, only one person actually took off and enjoyed the thrilling ride from the mountain top to the […]

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Day 4-Machu Picchu, Peru

Our day started off at 6:30am when we took a half hour bus ride to the Ollantaytambo train station. From there we embarked on the most beautiful scenic train ride along the river to Aguas Calientes. Another 25 minute bus ride and we were at the entrance to Machu Picchu. We then started our 2 […]

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Day 3- The Sacred Valley, Peru

Today we flew from Lima to Cusco and then took an hour and a half bus ride to Urubamba which translates to The Sacred Valley. The sun was out, the air was clear and the views were incredible. We arrived in the valley in the afternoon and took the remainder of the day to acclimate […]

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Day 2 Peru Service projects

Our second day in Lima, Peru was incredible. We started the morning off at the Camino de Vida facility assembling wheelchairs. Camino de Vida works in partnership with Free Wheelchair Mission. Our team of 24 (the other team worked on this project yesterday) assembled 4 wheelchairs and distributed 6 of them. It’s amazing how durable […]

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Day 1 of Volunteer Service Project in Lima, Peru

The first day of our group service projects in Lima, Peru was amazing. Our team of 24 spent the day at a mountain side village called Villa Maria. The local school (yellow and blue building behind me in the picture) was the site of the Medical camp hosted by the Alcansa church and Camino De […]

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Elly’s heading to Peru

Elly’s heading to Peru on June 18. Join us as we work on several different service projects in Lima and Cusco. We will be assembling and distributing wheelchairs, putting together hygiene kits, distributing shoes, and working on building, painting, and spending time with the children at the Albergue in Cusco. But it’s not going to […]

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Newsletter-Back from Puerto Vallarta

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Elly’s Back from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Elly and family are back from our short, fun filled and most gratifying trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Elly enjoyed packing for the trip. We spent the first two days enjoying our resort pool, the beach, golf, a relaxing facial and massage, a dolphin and sea lion encounter, and an unforgetable ziplining experience. The 3rd […]

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Hand Made Soccer Ball

This is a picture of a typical soccer ball used by kids in Rwanda who don’t have the means or resources for a real soccer ball. They are eager to play and very resourceful!!

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Vacations That Matter launches Blog

My family is visiting Puerto Vallarta in a couple of weeks and we are going to spend an afternoon visiting a women’s shelter . We will be baking and packaging cookies and making crafts which they sell locally to raise funds for their shelter. I asked them what they could really use since we were […]

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Go for the Gold

Message from my Heart My daughter participated in a recent swim meet at SOCAL Aquatics and it was amazing to see how inspired all the swimmers were to meet and receive an autograph from 7x Olympic medalist Jason Lezak and Olympic swimmer Christine Jennings who spent the afternoon at the meet encouraging the swimmers to […]

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Happy Valentines Day!

Message from my Heart It is only appropriate that on Valentine’s Day, I share a message from my heart. As I switched focus from planning typical vacations to planning vacations with a purpose, I was overwhelmed with the amount of volunteer service projects that are available throughout the world. Over the past couple of months […]

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