Volunteer for ThanksgivingThankful
Forget “Eat, Pray, Love.” You’re not going to find the meaning of life in a plate of pasta. But there are places in this world that will challenge you to think and inspire you to make change. Sri Lanka, Morocco, Montenegro, and New York. These destinations are the game-changers we featured in Galavante in 2012. Think of them as the Greatest Hits of Galavante, but without the Air Supply. Unless you’re into that.
As part of the Working Jet Set, the working part keeps us grounded. We’re well aware that there’s more to life than 1000-plus-thread-count sheets. We’re proud to dedicate the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, to giving back through volunteerism and our charities. At Galavante, we have a lot to be thankful for. And wherever you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we are thankful for you.
The Recap:We reset our priorities sipping tea at a plantation, and expanded our horizons by experiencing Hindu shrines and interacting with the beautiful local children in Sri Lanka. A completely unspoiled and undiscovered area of the world, Sri Lanka is where you’ll find your own inner peace. There is limited infrastructure in this country of lush landscapes and Buddhist temples, but the people could not be more welcoming and warm.
Doing Good: Volunteer with the nonprofit Fusion Sri Lanka, which creates community events like cricket tournaments and festivals to raise money to rebuild communities. http://fusionsrilanka.org/
The Recap: Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot is a retreat that balances luxury with the authentic experience of the Atlas Mountains. We were humbled by the Berber population, who had few material goods but much happiness. We spent time in the highest inhabited point of the Atlas Mountains, where we had lunch at a Berber family’s home, and felt like we were the only people in the world. We pushed our physical limits by riding ATVs on perilous “roads,” if they qualify as such, through stone villages and high into the mountains. There are few places we would return to year after year, and this is one of them.
Doing Good: The Eve Branson Foundation helps local Berbers develop sustainable enterprises. Mrs. Branson’s foundation has helped women in the area learn crafts, which they sell in their Craft House and in the Kasbah Tamadot shop. For those looking to volunteer on a visit to Kasbah Tamadot, the staff will make it happen.
The Recap: Montenegro is much more than the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Rugged and naturally beautiful, Montenegro translates as “black mountain.” For now, it’s fairly undiscovered but with just enough glamour, like the beach club Lido for poolside eye candy, high-end shops in Porto Montenegro, and the Aman Resorts Villa Milocer and Sveti Stefan. Why was Montenegro life-changing? Watching those purple-hued sunsets is to experience beauty like never before.
Doing Good: This is a place where charity starts at home. You’ve worked hard all year, and now it’s time to take time for yourself. Unplug, relax, and recharge. Repeat. It doesn’t get better than summer in Montenegro.
The Recap: No matter where we traveled, New York is where we came home to. It was the first glimpse of the skyline upon our return that was almost the best part of our trip. Almost. New York is a city of diversity and extremes, yet we all find a way to co-exist. As a wise man Jay-Z once sang: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
With Hurricane Sandy, communities across New York City may have lost power, but New Yorkers were not powerless. Locals are working together to help those who have lost homes, and are without the basic necessities of food and water. It’s one of those defining moments, which make New Yorkers proud to be from one of the greatest cities in the world.
Doing Good: Long after the volunteer trend is over, New York City residents will need your help more than ever. This Thanksgiving, support victims of the hurricane via Sandvertising, a group of talented women in the advertising industry, or Occupy Sandy.
(Photo: Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro, courtesy of Aman Sveti Stefan)