Nov
27

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3 Meaningful Christmas Gifts to Give Your Family

Posted by on November 27, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

I’m a sucker for the holiday season. Now based in California, I’ve lived 2,000+ miles away from my family and its Michigan roots all of my adult life.

Each year around the holidays I get nostalgic for the magical times spent hiding from the snow, curled up on the couch with loved ones, and eating take-out straight from the container (since there aren’t any good cooks in my family). Being able to relax with friends and family in a home that’s warm and comfortable is a privilege I’m always aware of and incredibly thankful for.

But as much as I treasure the memories of holidays spent at home, some of my fondest holiday experiences were the times that I spent traveling. My first taste of international travel came at age 10, on a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean that my grandparents gifted to our extended family. I’ll never forget the magic of opening one small gift each around a restaurant table in Jamaica. I felt so lucky and loved, on an adventure with my family.

When I traveled to Europe for the first time, I flew to Rome on Christmas Eve. It was the only time I’d been away from my family for the holidays. But, as I wandered through a Christmas market in Piazza Navona, I felt an odd sense of connection to every person on the planet who was celebrating.

Whether you’re planning to stay home or embark on an adventure during the holidays, this season is one for making lasting memories. So we’ve compiled a few tips for making the winter holidays special for yourself and your loved ones this year. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder that the most meaningful Christmas gifts for your family are those that come from the heart, not the store…Read More

Nov
22

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How to Choose Ethical Volunteer Organizations

Posted by on November 22, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

A few decades ago, there were only a couple of options available if you wanted to volunteer internationally: Join the Peace Corps (a lengthy commitment) or take a mission trip with a religious group. The lack of volunteer organizations to choose from ultimately kept most people from volunteering abroad.

These days it’s much easier to find volunteer organizations that offer international experiences. Nearly all of them have an online presence, and it’s easy to find photos and reviews from previous travelers that can help you make a decision about which program to choose. But for many prospective volunteers, there’s another level to the decision-making process. What about ethics?

How do volunteers determine whether the organizations they’re considering working with are rooted in sustainable travel principles? It can be challenging to determine whether volunteer organizations are truly committed to bringing about long-term benefits to the host communities.

This is often the cause for criticism that voluntourism receives. But there are great opportunities out there for travelers who want to see the world and help out along the way.

Want to ensure that the program you’re volunteering with does more good than harm? Asking the following four questions before you sign up will help you weed through the murky waters and get the answers you need to make a decision about the best volunteer organizations for you…Read More

Nov
20

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Galapagos Islands Animals: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by on November 20, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

Named the world’s first UNESCO Site in 1978, the Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of volcanic islands located 563 miles off the coast of Ecuador.

The landscapes of these 19 islands are remarkably diverse, from the lush green flora of the Santa Cruz highlands (where the Galapagos Tortoise roams wild) to the harsh, alien lava fields on Bartolomé. It’s also home to some of the world’s most fascinating endemic species, from ocean-feeding Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants to diminutive Galapagos Penguins.

The islands are most famous for their influence on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He observed that finch and tortoise subspecies genetically adapted to their environment differently on various islands.

Now, 177 years after Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, the Galapagos Islands is the only place in the world where wildlife has virtually no fear of humans. Curious Galapagos Sea Lions swim right up to you, and birds such as the Blue-Footed Boobie nest right beside marked hiking trails.

Here’s a look at some of the many Galapagos Islands animals you can expect to see when you visit Darwin’s paradise on Discover Corps’ new Galapagos Family Vacation

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Nov
18

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Top Non Profit Organizations for Holiday Giving

Posted by on November 18, 2016 · 1 Comment  

The festive holiday season is fast approaching. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re reminded of the extremely fortunate lives we in the United States lead.

For many Discover Corps travelers, the opportunity to give back to communities in developing nations is part of what makes traveling so special. But your contribution to our shared world doesn’t have to be restricted to volunteer time abroad. In fact, the holiday season is typically when families in the U.S. make the biggest impact through charitable giving.

In an effort to inspire those of you who wish to contribute to meaningful and impactful charities during the holiday season, we’ve put together a short list of organizations we admire. These are just a few of the countless charitable orgs that could really use your support.

If you’re feeling in the giving spirit this holiday season, we encourage you to read about the incredible organizations below. No matter how small your donation may be, we urge you to consider contributing to a cause that speaks to your heart and mind. If you have suggestions  for other organizations that should be on this list, please leave them for us in the comments!Read More

Nov
13

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What To Pack For Cuba: The Ultimate List

Posted by on November 13, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

In August 2016, Cuba became an accessible vacation destination for Americans when the first direct, commercial routes were opened between the two countries since the early 1960s.

Many Americans are thrilled by the opportunity to finally visit Cuba and meet the people who call it home. From mountains and beaches to the vibrant cities and towns in between, there are countless places to visit in Cuba that will light up your senses with their colors, culture and vibrant spirit.

But it’s important to remember that Cuba has been under an embargo for over 50 years. That means the goods they have available are very limited. Despite its improved relations with the US, you will not find wide availability of foreign products in Cuba.

So if you’re excitedly preparing to vacation through this previously closed door, it’s important to know what to bring with you. Here is our ultimate guide on what to pack for Cuba, with everything you need for an enjoyable vacation in the country.

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