Giving the gift of travel

By Randy Keck
This item appears on page 63 of the December 2012 issue.

Many ITN readers are privileged enough to have opportunities, and the means, to travel frequently to exotic international destinations of their choosing. It is easy to take for granted one’s good fortune in this regard as past journeys are pleasingly checked off travel “bucket lists” and the next adventures are planned.

Frequently, I am reminded that there are a great many deserving individuals, representing all age groups, who have a strong interest and desire to experience international travel but who, purely due to a lack of financial means, do not have the opportunity.

Some senior travelers are disappointed in not being able to share their love of international travel with their children or grandchildren, at least not as often as they would prefer. Typically, this is due to those relatives’ lack of availability (in terms of having the time to travel) or interest, and perhaps both.

I particularly encourage travelers in this category to broaden their horizons and consider extending the same travel opportunity to unrelated, deserving individuals who will both treasure the travel experience and fully appreciate one’s generosity.

Making a difference

There are myriad ways to share one’s belief in the overwhelming value of the international travel experience.

Single travelers who do not mind sharing a room can offer to pay part or all of a less affluent person’s trip cost, enabling that individual to enjoy a coveted international travel experience he or she would otherwise never know. The obvious caveat is that one must choose travel roommates/companions carefully.

• Those singles or couples who have minor physical limitations that impair their ability to travel comfortably on their own can each enlist the services of a travel aide who is chosen specifically because of his or her strong desire to experience international travel. The remuneration for this individual can be in the form of the trip, itself.

This travel concept should not be confused with travel by someone whose limitations mandate a trained medical aide in order for that person to travel.

• The gift of travel can also be provided to the financially limited current international traveler who is able to afford inexpensive trips only. This might be, for example, a person who has always dreamed of visiting the wilds of Africa but realistically will never be able to afford to do so without assistance.

The key to actually offering the gift of travel is sensitivity. One can, for example, ask the potential recipient if he or she would be open to “X” type of international travel experience if some financial assistance were available. The response will typically indicate whether to proceed and, if so, how.

Scholarship and grant posterity

Another option for providing the experience of international travel to deserving individuals is to create an international travel scholarship or grant award. This type of opportunity is particularly applicable to high school and college students. One example of criteria necessary for high school students to qualify for a travel award would be that they are planning to undertake international studies at the college level.

Donors can select the application and selection criteria and their own level of desired participation in each awardee’s selection process. Donors can even specify the precise type of international travel the award is for, such as travel to a specific country or region, as well as which company or other entity will orchestrate the actual travel arrangements.

Typically, annual types of scholarships and grant awards will carry the donor’s name and can be designed to live on long after the donor has departed planet Earth.

An example of an annual scholarship award title with a destination specification might be “The John and Marie Smith Annual International Travel Scholarship Award for Travel to/for… A. a specific country, B. a specific region, C. a developing country or region, D. a country or region where a specific language is spoken, E. a specific type of overseas study, F. a humanitarian travel experience or G. an overseas volunteer work experience.”

Certainly, there is no need to have a destination or specific-purpose restriction for the scholarship or travel award, but it’s likely the donor would prefer to have some criteria for the actual travel experience. (Presumably, the travel award is not designed to allow the winner to spend a week at an all-inclusive luxury resort in the Caribbean.)

Back to the future

My purpose for writing this discourse is simply to stimulate “outside the box” thinking regarding the subject of gifting travel. I welcome all readers’ comments, including experiences and ideas concerning the subject, and will share readers’ offerings in a future column if the response warrants it.

Keck's Beyond the Garden Wall

❝ If it is indeed more blessed to give than receive, is not the wondrous experience of international travel within that axiom? ❞
— Randy simply acknowledging a widely accepted fundamental human principle