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When I travel to a developing country, I try to bring care packages to share with people in need. Care packages for adults can include items like t-shirts, toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, shampoo, and conditioner. But for kids I usually include things like a kids’ outfit, a pen or pencil, and small toys.
Most of the items in care packages are donated by friends and colleagues. The soap, shampoo, and conditioner I take from hotels I stay in. So it doesn’t have to cost a lot. All it takes is a little bit of time to stuff the gift bags. And when it’s time to create care packages for an upcoming trip, I ask my friends to help. We have fun sorting through the donations and making the bags!
On a previous trip to the Dominican Republic, we brought supplies to support the young ladies at CODR, a nonprofit that keeps at risk young women off the streets. Bringing small gifts made me feel good because I was doing something for someone else. And it helped me connect to the people of the country I was visiting on a deeper level. For me, getting to know locals can really transform an ordinary trip into something magical.
Small Packages, Big Emotions
In places like India, you’ll see 100s of families that call the street home. There have been a few times where handing out these small gifts really affected me. One time, I gave a girl a package (she looked to be ~10 years old), and she opened it up and found a comb. Her whole face lit up and she immediately began to comb her hair. She looked like she hadn’t seen a comb in years!
Another time, I saw an older, frail woman picking through a huge heap of trash for anything valuable to resell. I went up to her, looked her in the eyes, and gave her a package. Her eyes filled with so much gratitude and joy I almost started crying.
On another occasion, we wrapped the gifts in Christmas gift wrap because it was near the holidays. These small packages can brighten others’ lives in ways I didn’t realize. And they brightened my life in the process.
You Can Inspire Others
Team member Jasmin has also made bringing care packages a regular part of her and her kids’ travel plans. She also brought some sports gear and clothing to local kids in Cuba. She does this to instill gratitude in her kids:
They know they’re very lucky for opportunities a lot of other folks don’t have. It’s easy for kids to take the basic things they have for granted, like a warm bed or a meal on the table. Travel opens their eyes to the fact that many others don’t have it as good as they do.
Traveling can be more than seeing the sights, it can also be about connecting with the locals in a more personal way. For me, I like to bring care packages to locals in need. Care packages don’t have to cost a lot! They can be filled with toiletries from hotel stays and donated clothing and toys.
Have you done something similar on your travels? Share it with me in the comments below!