Travel with a Purpose: Kenya

Travel with a Purpose: Kenya

Safaris are magical, otherworldly experiences, wholly unlike other journeys. Not just transported to a foreign land, you are completely immersed in nature, culture, food, history. Safaris enrich the mind, stretch the imagination, calm the soul, and encourage self-reflection. A typical day? Rise with the sun and enjoy a peaceful breakfast in the wilderness; hold your breath while a mamma lion brushes up against your safari vehicle; dance with Masai warriors upon exiting a bush plane; tour a proud village elder’s mud hut; quietly tip toe through the brush to gaze at the majesty of a carefully guarded rhino; contemplate a flawless night sky and the Milky Way stretching over the evening bonfire.

But, my recent trip to Kenya included an even MORE unique experience, thanks to Micato Safaris and its nonprofit arm, AmericaShare. A recent article in AFAR magazine reminded me of what made this safari so memorable. Our two-week travel industry familiarization trip to Kenya and Tanzania hosted by Micato included a visit to one of the organizations supported by this award-winning travel company: the Harambee Community Center. Located in Mukuru, East Nairobi’s densely populated slum, this center left an indelible impression, and reminded me that travel for enjoyment can also include travel with a purpose: to open your heart and mind and shine a necessary light on causes and people around the world.

Packed into Mukuru are 500,000 people whose daily income barely exceeds four dollars. The township lacks basic formal infrastructure, running water, electricity, and sanitation. Its residents live in tiny one-roomed corrugated iron shacks with up to twenty families sharing a communal water tap and toilet.

AmericaShare, founded over 30 years ago, is dedicated to improving the lives of the children living in Mukuru. Through education and community outreach programs, they provide disadvantaged children with access to basic education resources to facilitate sustainable change. Many children in Mukuru cannot afford to consistently attend school. While public primary school tuition fees are covered by the government, hidden costs, such as uniforms, books, and lunch fees keep children from attending.

Harambee CenterOur travel agent group was brought to the Harambee Center – it means “Let’s Pull Together” in Swahili.  The center is a multi-purpose facility – a bright and beautiful oasis of hope and green space in the middle of the Mukuru slum. A vital community center, it allows residents to gather for lectures, educational sessions, and meetings. Our visit (pre-pandemic) included a tour of the classrooms, lending library, and computer resource building. Students of all ages were seated shoulder to shoulder at tables, quietly doing homework, studying for exams, and forming study groups. The library is stocked with over twenty thousand books, including novels, textbooks, and study guides. Books are a rare gift in Mukuru; many schools do not have adequate textbooks, and novels are a luxury most cannot afford.

AmericaShare has programs aimed at helping children living in poverty remain in school, giving them the opportunity to learn as every child deserves. For every trip booked with Micato Safaris, the company sends one child to school. Now in the age of COVID-19, AmericaShare’s mission has become even MORE dire: providing protective masks and organizing food donations to help ameliorate the increasing problem of hunger, something that is running rampant worldwide. Now, keeping kids from falling behind due to the recent closure of schools is even more paramount. New rules on social distancing and the lack of smart phones, tablets, or even the internet, severely limits digital learning.

Harambee Center

Harambee CenterI was grateful for the opportunity to see this organization’s efforts in action and help shine a light on their mission. Although the residents are faced with the daily challenge of survival, our visit to Harambee included an opportunity to see the children’s commitment to education, positivity, and kinship.

Our tour ended with a jubilant musical performance by the children (see video linked below). As the singing concluded, the children enveloped us and welcomed each of us into their circle, forever leaving their mark on our hearts and our souls. To learn more about AmericaShare and make a donation click here.

Click on photo to view video:

Need help putting together your Bucket-list Trip or Dream Vacation? It’s never TOO early to plan. Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points? Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership.

To view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE.

Mukuru and Harambee Center exterior photos courtesy of AmericaShare.

Private Camp Experiences

Private Camp Experiences

With many summer day camps and sleep away camps forced to close this summer, how can concerned parents keep their children stimulated and safe in the age of social distancing?

I am pleased to present you with an exclusive opportunity designed to offer comfortable settings that allow for social distancing through private accommodations and meals, private activities and a dedicated private counselor.

Kids will be entertained with full days of play while parents can relax with peace of mind, join the activities, or continue working remotely. Whether you are looking to travel alone or with one or two close friends or family, a customized program for every age group will be tailor made to suit everyone’s interests. Working remotely? An office can be set up for your convenience to make sure your work continues uninterrupted.

Choose from a variety of private and semi-private destinations from around the USA, Caribbean and Mexico including ranches, lodges, mountain escapes and beach getaways. Make this a summer spent together with your loved ones! #ExperiencesNotThings

summer adventure
summer adventure

summer adventurePrivate Camp locations include:

East Coast: Chatham Bars Inn, The Lodge at Woodloch, Watch Hill Inn
Midwest: Amangiri, Dunton Hot Springs, Dunton River Camp, The Lodge at Big Sky
Caribbean & Mexico: NIZUC Resort & Spa, Rosewood Mayakoba, One&Only Palmilla

 

Ready to plan your summer family adventure? Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com.

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation? Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points?
Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

To view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

 

 

Why You Should use a Travel Agent, Now More Than Ever

Why You Should use a Travel Agent, Now More Than Ever

Articles in the New York Times and Travel Market Report highlight the recent surge in bookings arranged by Travel Agents. As the Times mentions, consumers are realizing the benefits gained by working with a professional. To save money and enhance the quality of a trip at no cost to you, travelers should look for an adviser from a large consortium like American Express. Because of longstanding partnerships with travel companies and the sheer volume of bookings companies like American Express generate for hotel, airline and cruise partners, they are able to negotiate special rates and perks on behalf of their clients, from free cocktails and room upgrades upon arrival to spa treatments and late checkouts. “The VIP treatment does not come at extra cost,” states Times columnist Michelle Higgens; “travel advisers provide an element of personalization that can’t be offered via an online travel service.”

“The struggle is real,” notes Travel Market Report; “the sheer volume of information consumers must sift through if they’re booking online has turned trip planning into an ordeal!” But, not for an experienced travel agent!

Recently, I was featured as a guest blogger on the LICenter.org website. Click here to read my article on the “Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent” and see some of the benefits and perks that YOU may be missing out on by NOT using a Travel Agent.

 

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation? Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points?
Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

To view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

Headphoto courtesy of Rana Swalha

Planning Perfect Multi-Generational Trips

Planning Perfect Multi-Generational Trips

A multi-generational trip is an amazing way to create authentic, long lasting memories with your friends and family. But coordinating a multitude of individual needs and desires can overwhelm even the most intrepid traveler. Here are some tips to help make your vacation planning stress-free:

plan ahead:
The larger the group, the farther ahead the planning. Start at least a year in advance to give everyone ample time to arrange for vacation time away from work or school.

choose a leader:
Assign a point person who can represent the group, coordinate its needs and wants, and present vacation options based on an agreed upon set of parameters including price per person and length of trip.

call your travel agent:
Sure, there’s lots of travel advice online, but it’s so easy to experience information overload and wind up down the “internet rabbit hole.”  A travel agent (that’s me!) is a valuable resource and can suggest destinations, negotiate group rates, arrange complimentary amenities or upgrades, and organize your entire itinerary door to door. Need more convincing? Read my recent article “Top Twelve Reasons to use a Travel Agent.”

Grand Cayman

Resorts offer plenty of water-sports and beach activities to keep groups of all sizes happy

narrow the choices:
Discuss the needs of each traveler, including the kids and the teens, who usually have some genuine input and ideas. Do they favor city tours or country pursuits? Are they “Harry Potter” fans or “Beatlemaniacs”? Beach bums or adventure junkies? Foodies or fitness freaks? Remember, their opinions matter.

Maui, Hawaii

Woodcarving in Bali, Indonesia

Hands-on activities like wood-carving in Bali, will keep curious kids engaged

Guided group tours geared towards families (like Tauck’s Bridges Program) are a great option.  Or, consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort. Many offer children complimentary accommodations or at a reduced rate, and both offer plenty of activities that appeal to a wide range of age groups.  Private guided excursions in a van or minibus will bring everyone together and allow you to tailor sightseeing to everyone’s wishes, especially if individuals have physical limitations that need to be accommodated. Look for unique activities that will keep everyone engaged: a cooking class – think, pastries in Paris or pizza in Pisa; a Segway session in Seville; or London MINI-Cooper tour.

include some downtime:
Alone time is important – don’t expect family members to spend every waking moment together. Everyone can use a good afternoon nap no matter his or her age.

purchase trip insurance:
Comprehensive cancellation and medical coverage is crucial in the event of an emergency or unforeseen situation while away or back home, either prior to or during travel.

London, England

Book a MINI Cooper Tour and visit hidden gems of London in these classic cars

keep it fun!
Remember, the goal is being together with friends and family and taking time off from the busy lives we all live to enjoy some real (and electronic-free!) time together. Make it an unforgettable experience, and everyone will sign up for another trip, even before the first one has ended!

For more travel advice, check out my recent article: “Smart Traveler Tips” 

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation?
Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

SMART PHONE SUBSCRIBERS: to view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

To become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all of my latest articles right to your inbox, look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email.

For more information on my trip planning services, please click here.

Herricks Travel American Express/Altour