Real Honeymoons

Real Couples' Humanitarian Honeymoons

Continued (page 3 of 4)

This was quite a contrast to the couple’s accommodations during the three-week volunteer portion of their honeymoon: a house shared with 12 other volunteers (although the staff gave them a private room). "The showers have only cold water, and there are ants in the house," Kristin wrote in her journal. "But we are surrounded by poor villages, so we feel that the accommodations are quite luxurious."

The third phase of the couple’s honeymoon was a four-day safari. After traversing the Serengeti and seeing animals in their natural habitat—lions, cheetahs, hippos, zebras, monkeys and more—the two returned to their lodge for an in-room massage. "Ending our trip with this safari was definitely the right thing to do," the couple wrote in their travel blog. "We are so relaxed, and have plenty of time to reflect on everything we did here in Africa and everything we plan to do when we get back home."

In fact, these humanitarian honeymoons can leave such an impression that many couples choose to continue their trail of service after they return home. Kristin, a lawyer, and Brandon, a business analyst and entrepreneur, plan to start a nonprofit in the United States to help create more orphan schools in poor African villages. After her honeymoon in India, Jena decided to travel with her mother to Tanzania to do more volunteer work. And Sandra and Mark were so affected by their experience with the children in Ecuador that they are planning to return to the country in February.

"It was an incredible beginning to our married life together," says Sandra. "It gave us a sense of appreciation for all we ourselves have and how little effort it takes to make the world just a bit better."

Where to Go
With the growing popularity of "voluntours," there are hundreds of opportunities worldwide, from saving sea turtles in Costa Rica to aiding orphans in China to rebuilding areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

What It Will Cost
One-week programs start in the $1,000-per-person range. Costs typically do not include airfare but cover expenses such as meals, accommodations and insurance. If you work with a nonprofit to plan the trip, most expenses are tax-deductible.

Whom to Contact
A wide variety of travel agencies and tour operators now offer such trips: Online giant Travelocity has even gotten on board with its Travel for Good program. Or consider working with a reputable nonprofit, such as Global Volunteers or Globe Aware, both of which have years of experience. Some organizations, such as Britain-based i-to-i, offer volunteer trips tailor-made for newlyweds. More recently, the W New Orleans partnered with Hands On New Orleans to offer a package that combines a day of service with accommodations and pampering amenities (package from $239 per couple; 504/525-9444).

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