Where we spend our money matters. It increases whatever it touches, creates opportunities, and furthers initiati
ves. Think of your money as an expansion tool that enables you to make a big impact if you are intentional with your spending. Simply ask yourself, “Does my spending reflect my values?”
In this post, I’m issuing a challenge—a vacation challenge. For your next vacation, go someplace where your money will really do some good. In the time I’ve spent in the British Virgin Islands since they were devastated by Harvey, Irma and Maria, the one thing the residents emphasize is the need to get back to business, which in the BVI means tourism. Tourism is the lifeblood of the BVI and so many of the other beautiful places that were slammed by Irma and Maria. Understanding that these places have endured devastation, but are on the road to recovery, you could spend some vacation time in:
- St. Mitts & Nevis
- Antigua & Barbuda
- St. Thomas, St. John, St. Martin
- Turks & Caicos
- Puerto Rico
- Dominican Republic
- Mocoa, Columbia
- Houston, Texas
- Florida Keys
And let’s add Napa Valley, California to the list. Whether it’s fire or hurricanes that have wreaked havoc, the end result is loss … loss of life, property, and livelihoods. All we can do about the loss of life is mourn, pray for the survivors and grieving loved ones, and be grateful for every life that was spared. The loss of property can be remedied, but that takes money. And that’s what makes the potential loss of livelihood so unthinkable, because losing the ability to earn money makes meaningful recovery so much more difficult.
That’s why restaurants and hotels and tourist attractions are opening their doors for business while their owners and employees are living in homes with half a roof or no roof at all. The people who live in these devastated areas know that their only hope of rebuilding is to get their business back up and running, and have the tourists visit them. They know that they are losing even loyal vacationers to other destinations, and they’re putting all their effort into winning them back.
So, maybe it isn’t what it used to be, but we’re already seeing green where weeks ago there was none. And do what I did, if you don’t love the way the trees look, look at the water. It’s as beautiful as ever. And from my experience, the people are so genuine and so grateful that you’re there, they do whatever they can to treat you like royalty. And it feels so good knowing that by simply spending money on a meal, or a hotel room, or a catamaran rental, you’re helping people who really need it.
Government leaders in these devastated areas know their first rebuilding priority must be to restore the businesses that serve tourists. That’s the only way to keep the economic engine running and preserve people’s livelihoods. But you don’t see that in the headlines. The media focuses on the truly terrible, because that’s what attracts the public’s attention. Human beings love drama. All too many people who ordinarily vacation in these locales don’t even consider going back an option, at least not in the near future, so they’re going elsewhere.
Some people may be concerned that going to one of these places isn’t safe, especially for a family vacation, but that’s a misconception. I can tell you from my experience in the BVI that all the escaped convicts have been rounded up, and the last thing anybody wants is for a tourist to be harmed in any way. That would sure put a damper on tourism, so they go to great lengths to keep everyone safe.
Nobody’s asking you to spend your vacation clearing debris or swinging a hammer. But you can rest assured that taking a vacation in one of these struggling areas will make a difference where it’s truly needed, while you’re having fun at the same time. And personally, I think it’s good for children to see how people cope with adversity and persevere under difficult circumstances. By scheduling a family vacation in the BVI or any other area struggling to recover and rebuild, you join a force for good.
So, here’s my challenge:
Take a fun vacation in a beautiful(ish) place. Even if it isn’t as gorgeous as it normally would be, the resilient people working hard to rebuild their nation are an inspiration, and they will make every effort to ensure that you have a great time.
Your vacation will be guilt free, no matter how much you spend on having a terrific time. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to boost the economy and create opportunities in places that really need it, when others are choosing to go elsewhere.
You get to be part of the recovery and experience the change going on all around you. I guarantee you’ll go home feeling as inspired as I have from each of my trips to the BVI.
Respond to the challenge. Let us know where you’re going! Share your experience and send us pics. We would love to feature you! In a future article!