We packed and we packed for a purpose!
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for our Centre Holidays Travel Agent Conference and Business Bootcamp. It was an annual event to bring together Centre Holidays travel agents from all over Canada together to learn from our leader and from each other. From the end of August and into the first couple of weeks in September, many of us travel agents were battling the travel effects of Hurricane Irma, and working on rebooking our clients’ vacations that were impacted by Irma. Our own travel plans were up in the air as we were not 100% positive our trip was still going to happen because of Hurricane Irma and Jose on her tail.
Once we received confirmation that our travel plans were not affected, several agents and I decided we wanted to do something. As agents, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to travel as much as we do. But yet, we wanted to do something that would impact the locals and hopefully make a difference however small it may be.
We decided we were going to support various projects listed on Pack for a Purpose.org, a non-profit organization that encourages travellers to pack for a purpose. Projects in destinations all over the world list their required supplies and travellers are encouraged to brings extras with them in their luggage. Because we were heading to Punta Cana, we decided to partner with Outback Adventures to support the projects they could distribute the supplies.
I figured I could bring a checked bag with me to donate. I asked a few friends to see who had extra school supplies or personal care supplies they wanted to donate as I had extra space. In 48 hours, this was what was collected.
I have amazing friends who answered my call for supplies (You know who you are and I love and cherish you all!!) I was initially looking to fill one bag full of supplies but this was what I picked up 24 hours later. Special shout out to Maria Schuba Fitness and friends and Made by Momma, who contributed a significant amount of supplies that I was able to bring with me. Because of the generosity of all these wonderful hearts, I was determined to bring it all with me to donate to the schools we had pledged to support.
Not only did I have enough stuff for one bag, I had enough to fill four bags of supplies! Thank goodness for Westjet’s generous humanitarian baggage allowance!
According to Westjet’s website,
WestJet will accept one piece of baggage containing humanitarian aid per guest with the following restrictions:
- The flight must be departing from Canada;
- The humanitarian aid items must be packed separately from your belongings;
- The baggage item must not exceed the checked baggage allowance for the aircraft you will be travelling on, or the amount permitted to your intended destination;
- Baggage which exceeds the standard size and weight allowances will be charged the applicable overweight and oversized baggage fee(s);
- Please note: some countries have restrictions on the types of aid permitted. It is your responsibility to contact the country’s consulate or embassy to verify permitted items as well as the guidelines and procedures for importing the item(s).
Once we arrived in Punta Cana with the rest of our travel agent friends, we had collected a substantial amount of supplies to donate to the local schools and projects that Outback Adventures helps.
And luckily….it all fit into their truck!
All of us at Centre Holidays were happy to bring a little extra with us for our travels to help support the local people however we can. It truly shows how one small act can make such a big impact, and with the collective efforts of those involved, the difference we are able to make can be significant.
After speaking with Rebecca Rothney, Founder and Chairperson for Pack for a Purpose.org, she described the humanitarian efforts from travellers like a hostess gift. When we are visiting a friend’s house, we usually bring a hostess gift, something small and useful to show our appreciation of their hospitality. Visiting another country is no different. We are bringing useful supplies they request and need as a show of our appreciation for their hospitality as we visit their beautiful country and offer support on how we can. It’s that simple.
I encourage all travellers to check out Pack for a Purpose for their next travels and any travel after that. See if your destination is on the list and find a project or two with any extra supplies you can bring from home. The locals will be happy to pick up from you and distribute where needed. A small act, with a little effort can make a big impact.