Earn Some Humanitarian Miles

By Abbie Kozolchyk

Two of the impulses tied to the holiday season—giving back and getting out of town—can pair quite nicely. Virtuoso, a luxury travel advisor network that forecasts top trends in upscale travel, names wildlife preservation among the year’s major motivators; the same goes for travel that benefits local communities, including tours and hotel stays that—by virtue of simply booking them—will give back in some meaningful way.


“Some people say you can’t change the world,” says Barbara Alpert, who recently traveled with Micato Safaris to help support the company’s childhood education initiatives. “But when you change one child’s life, you do change the whole world for that individual child. And if that can happen as the natural extension of an already amazing trip, so much the better.” And it’s not just long voyages: The quickest weekend escape (to the right hotel) can make a difference. So whatever the scale of your next getaway, you may find the perfect fit in one of these give-back hotel stays and tours.

Micato Safaris

This perennially award-winning luxury outfitter offers an extensive safari menu, from the classics (see: the Heart of Kenya and Tanzania, with stops in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Maasai Mara) to the niche. The new Elite Running Safari, for example, will have you training and socializing with some of Kenya’s most storied marathoners—and seeing wildlife along the way. But whichever safari you choose, its sale will cover all school fees for a local child.


Though it began—and is still best known—as a bike tour company, the beloved Berkeley, California-based Backroads brand has expanded into all manner of active travel. New offerings range from an Antarctic multisport adventure (the local kayaking, hiking and snowshoeing is surreal) to a bike tour that traces Japan’s Noto Peninsula (think rice terraces, limestone formations and fishing villages). Though all Backroads trips emphasize comfort and service, you can turn most of them private and book extras such as a ride-along photographer.

Whichever way you go, your trip helps support a number of initiatives, two of which, naturally, involve bikes: Trips for Kids introduces at-risk children to cycling, and World Bicycle Relief provides bikes to rural workers, students and health care providers in various Asian, South American and African countries.


This company may own some of Peru’s most stunning high-end hotels, but it is equally focused on conservation. If you stay at the ethereal, jungle-shrouded Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel alongside a river below the ruins, for example—or at the impeccably appointed colonial-era mansion that is now Cusco’s La Casona hotel, you’ll be contributing to the cause as well. Through a nonprofit arm called Inkaterra Asociación, the company manages thousands of acres of rainforest, monitors their biodiversity and supports local organic farming.

Como Hotels

Though undisputed masters of the otherworldly escape (see: Shambhala Estate in Bali, Uma Paro in Bhutan and Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos), this family of hotels also has a nonprofit arm that’s decidedly rooted in the real world: the Como Foundation focuses specifically on gender equity and invests in a wide range of programs for girls and women, from treatment for trafficking survivors to solar-energy sales training for rural women.

Article by Mosaic and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley.

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