Author: Discover Corps

Mar
25

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Why Should Your Family Volunteer Abroad?

Posted by on March 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

The popularity of volunteer travel, or voluntourism, has increased dramatically over the past decade. Whereas before, it was rare to know anyone who had volunteered abroad outside of a religious mission trip, there are now options for nearly anyone who wants to make a difference while vacationing.

Having operated in this space throughout that time, Discover Corps has noticed one exciting trend among our travelers—that more and more families are signing up to Vacation with Purpose.

I sat down with Discover Corps Founder and Director Andrew Motiwalla to discuss this trend, and to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to volunteer abroad with children. I also asked him which Discover Corps programs are best for families, what makes voluntourism is so special for to do together, and more.

Check out our interview below:

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Mar
14

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The Importance of Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness

Posted by on March 14, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In the past few months, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase in hate crimes being reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s monitoring group has reported a disturbing rise in the number of hate groups operating within the country, reporting a total of 917 as of this story’s publication.

To say that the Discover Corps team finds this to be an incredibly disturbing trend is an understatement. We are thoroughly disgusted by recently reported events such as the vandalism and destruction of headstones at Jewish cemeteries across the country, hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at Muslim Americans, and way too many other instances of intolerance.

In the first three months following President Trump’s election, the SPLC recorded a whopping 1,372 bias incidents. Of that total, more than 25 percent were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments.

hate crime statistics

In short, 2017 is turning out to be a challenging year for many Americans. Even simple, rational beliefs about equality and basic human rights have become increasingly politically charged. Here at Discover Corps, we believe that makes culturally immersive travel more important than ever.

We’re proud to be facilitating experiences that open the hearts and minds of travelers to new experiences and cultures around the world. We’re especially aware of the increased importance of promoting cultural sensitivity and awareness through all aspects of our work.

These values are paramount to assuring that citizens of our increasingly globalized planet are able to understand and respect one another. And embracing them is the only way to ensure that we’ll be able to come together as people to ensure that our future holds more peace and promise than our past.

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Mar
5

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How to Plan a Meaningful Vacation: Tips for Making Trips Unforgettable

Posted by on March 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

When you plan a vacation, what aspects of the trip do you usually consider during the planning process? Dates, destinations, and day-to-day details are probably at the top of that list. Usually we pick a place that we’re interested in traveling to and then fill in the details from there.

But what about the feeling that you want to have when you walk away from your vacation? How much thought do you usually put into how a given trip will transform you? This isn’t something that most families consider when they plan trips.

I haven’t always been so intentional about this aspect of my own travels. But I’ve recently come to realize that the feelings I want my trips to inspire are a really important element. It’s hard to beat walking away from a vacation not only with wonderful memories, but also with that feeling you get when an experience is particularly special or precious to you.

So what are the components of a meaningful vacation? And how do we ensure that our travel experiences live up to this somewhat intangible expectation?

Each of us is different in terms of what we find most beneficial. But we’ve put together a few suggestions of how to plan a meaningful vacation that will change you for the better…

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Feb
22

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The Top 5 Thailand Islands for Your Travel Bucket List

Posted by on February 22, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

The Thailand islands have skyrocketed in popularity over the past two decades, and with good reason. With a colorful culture, adventurous activities, and constantly improving infrastructure, Thailand offers something for every type of traveler.

Trips to northern Thailand and the mountains around Chiang Mai offer opportunities for jungle trekking, meeting hill tribes, and diving into the significance of Buddhist spirituality. Visiting Bangkok offers travelers a crash course in Thai culture within the hustle and bustle of a major city.

But the south Thailand islands call to travelers for entirely different reasons. These are some of the most beautiful islands in the world, and anyone lucky enough to visit them comes away with different favorites. There are so many islands in Thailand, even Wikipedia doesn’t have a complete list.

Curious which Thailand islands made our Top 5 list? Check ‘em out below, and let us know your favorites in the comments!Read More

Feb
19

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Jungle Love: Why Rainforests Are Important

Posted by on February 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Anybody who has ever visited one know there’s something special about the jungle. But why are rainforests important? Not just for local people and wildlife, but for the health of our planet?

The Earth was originally packed with these regions, which are centered around the equator. They’re usually full of low-hanging vines, vibrant greenery, brilliantly colored blooms, and predators on the prowl. People travel from all across the world to explore these dense, tropical areas, and the reliance of locals on the regions continues even as threats to their survival increase.

These regions power our planet in more ways than one. They provide us with about 30% of the total oxygen used by all species to sustain life. They also serve as a protective home to millions of unique species of plants and animals. The power and productivity of rainforests is so intense that they’re often referred to as the “lungs of the earth.”

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Feb
5

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Beyond Machu Picchu: Our Top 7 Attractions in the Peruvian Andes

Posted by on February 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In Peru, tourism is having its moment in the sun, growing annually at a rate of 25% over the past five years. Anyone who has visited this South American nation returns with a deep appreciation for the friendly people, beautiful landscapes, and rich and diverse cultural heritage that is on constant display.

The country is as complex as the most intricate and exquisite weavings made there. For travelers, there are so many things to do in Peru. Festivals spill from churches into the surrounding streets, shaman ceremonies mark ancient rites, and bustling urban centers seamlessly turn to quaint towns and cobblestone streets as you wander.

The vast majority of Peru tourism takes place in the Cusco region and revolves around visits to the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Under UNESCO protection, the archeological masterpiece has been placed under restrictions by the Peruvian government for its preservation. So it’s not as easy as it once was to visit Machu Picchu.

But there’s so many others things to do and see in the Peruvian Andes beyond Machu Picchu. So this week, we’re using the blog to help travelers make the most of their trip to Peru’s Sacred Valley, beyond simply snapping some shots atop South America’s most Instagrammed location.

The Peruvian Andes (which includes the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and colonial city of Cusco) is rich in archaeological sites and opportunities for cultural immersion. Check out these seven attractions in the Peruvian Andes, and leave us a comment if you’ve got suggestions to add to our list!

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Jan
26

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Islands and Elephants in Thailand

Posted by on January 26, 2017 · 1 Comment  

More and more frequently, issues surrounding the exploitation of animals are being brought to public eye. Massive organizations like Sea World and TripAdvisor have recently made major changes as a result of outspoken animal activism.

This critical lens has extended to travelers, who face many ethical choices when they travel abroad. Riding Elephants in Thailand is no longer considered responsible travel behavior, nor is walking with Lions in Africa.

From the shutdown of Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple to Ringling Brothers going out of business after over a century, there’s more awareness of animal abuse than ever before. And that awareness is important for those seeking exotic animal encounters. It enables them to carefully consider their options, and the impact of their actions.

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Jan
19

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How Volunteer Travel is Fatal to Prejudice, Bigotry and Narrow-Mindedness

Posted by on January 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In a world where the career of “travel blogger” reigns high in the court of cool, there’s some inherent irony in the fact that the best-selling travel book of all time is nearly 150 years old.

Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, which humorously chronicles Twain’s experience traveling with a group of American tourists through Europe on a the steamship Quaker City, was first published in 1869. It was the best-selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime, and it remains the inspiration for wanderlust of epic proportions to this day.

Beyond inspiring generations of his literary fans with his signature humor, the book supports the idea that one should consider traveling to expand their own horizons.

One of the most quoted sections of the book reads as follows:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s life.” 

Essentially, Mark Twain—the father of American literature and arguably the greatest humorist of his age– believed that travel opens people up to world views that are nearly impossible to comprehend without first-hand experience. Scientists have even tried, through recent research, to prove this statement true.

At Discover Corps, we’d have to agree. It’s our opinion that meaningful travel experiences change lives for the better. We believe that volunteer travel is particularly fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Here’s how…

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Jan
8

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How Will Trump’s Presidency Impact Travel to Cuba?

Posted by on January 8, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Two years ago, President Barack Obama opened a new chapter in U.S./Cuba relations. He announced that the two countries would move forward into a new era of peaceful coexistence, and lessened restrictions on American travel to Cuba.

Considered one of the administrations’ signature achievements, Obama and Cuba President Raúl Castro ended decades of estrangement, vowing to move toward normal bilateral ties in December 2014.

Now, as President Obama enters his final days in the Oval Office, many travelers wonder how Donald Trump’s Presidency will impact travel to Cuba. From the threatening statements released by incoming leadership thus far, it’s clear that the Trump administration has its sights set on dismantling many of Obama’s legacy achievements.

Whether or not the unpredictable Trump will follow through on his threats to roll back Obama’s progress in Cuba remains to be seen. But here’s an overview of where things stand, including statements made on (and off) the campaign trail by Trump’s team regarding U.S./Cuba relations.Read More

Dec
21

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Keeping New Years Resolutions: How to Be a Better You in 2017

Posted by on December 21, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

The statistics on keeping New Years resolutions aren’t pretty.

At the beginning of each new year, nearly half of the American public makes resolutions to change aspects of their lives. Some vow to lose the extra weight they’ve been carrying around, save more money for retirement, or try their luck with online dating. We’re notorious for committing to big, bold plans, only to lose steam a few weeks later.

It’s a great concept, though. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all set small, meaningful goals that made our years on the planet progressively more productive, intentional, healthy or enjoyable?

While I tend to avoid using the “resolution” label, there’s a part of me that gets really excited every time January 1st rolls around. Who doesn’t love a fresh slate, even if it’s only real in our minds?

So, for 2017, let’s all focus on being the best versions of ourselves possible. To help out with some inspiration for keeping New Years resolutions, I’ve compiled a little list of ways you can get started .Read More