Sample itinerary - 7 days, 6 nights
Includes your own basic website, packing instructions, all meals, ground transportation in Jamaica, small hotels, guides, photography and video footage, day activities, group learning sessions, and meetings with locals at schools and community centres.
(Does NOT include airfare, taxis to and from airports, tips, alcoholic beverages, souvenirs and bail.)
Land in Montego Bay, one night
- Different arrival dates for all participants
- Visit a school, donate supplies
- Day activities? Relax on beach
Stay in Negril one night
- Visit a school
- Day activities (relax)
- Stay at White Sands Resorts
3 nights Treasure Beach
- Visit school and local folks?
- Day activities (falls, river tour, beach bar, plantation house, Pelican Bar – see Jake’s website)
- Stay at Jakes Hotel
1 night Kingston, fly back
- Visit Alpha Boys School
- Stay at Courtleigh Hotel
- Day activities (Trenchtown, Devon House, Bob Marley museum, Scotties for lunch)
Where can you go on a trip that combines sunny weather, great landscapes, funky music, tasty food, good hotels – and a chance to make a difference in the lives of the people you meet? I’ve enjoyed such trips to Asia (Nepal, Cambodia, India), the Caribbean (Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten), South America and the South Seas, but the one destination that appeals more than most is Jamaica. Reggae music, jerk chicken, white sand beaches, sea turtles and friendly people, and best of all they speak English (or a patois form thereof). Many hotels will assist in creating tours to local schools where you can meet students. School supplies, computers and cameras are all greatly appreciated. Saving sea turtles and supporting sports and music are other options.
Here’s my plan. We form a small group (no more than 8 people for transportation purposes). We set an itinerary (see sample above) that includes visits to schools. For instance, the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay supports Barrett Town School, with students ages 8-14. The principal there says the school needs computer hardware/software, educational games, basketballs, soccer balls, team uniforms and first aid/health supplies like antibiotic ointment and bandaids. Books are too heavy to carry in luggage, but balls can be deflated, first aid supplies are light, and a laptop can be carried onto a plane. We never bring sweets as few of the children benefiting from these projects have access to toothpaste, toothbrushes, or a dentist and candy promotes cavities. Exact packing instructions for medicines, school supplies and other loose items will be supplied.
The Half Moon in Montego Bay boasts 2 miles of sandy beach with all the usual amenities of a high end hotel, king or twin beds, and balconies yet deluxe suites start as low as $230 per night. On the other hand, Jakes at Treasure Beach on the quiet south shore of the island has lovely rooms starting as low as $115 per night. Montego Bay is a typical tourism location. Treasure Beach is an off the beaten track destination where rooms start as low as $95 per night. Jake’s serves the Sandy Bank Basic School and Salvation Army Basic School together, with approximately 95 children from ages 3 through 5 years old.
What to do for day trips? On Treasure Beach take a 20-minute boat ride right from the Jake’s Jetty, zip past miles of sunbaked shoreline and find yourself at Floyd’s Pelican Bar, ranked by Conde Naste as the best beach bar in the world. Swim around, kick back and catch some rays. Then sip on rum and red stripe and enjoy fish caught and fried right on site. YS Falls is a 45-minute drive from Jakes, an exquisite 120-foot, eight-tiered fall featuring cool pools perfect for swimming, as well as a zip line, rope swing, and river tubing. On route is great dining at Middle Quarters and Bamboo Avenue, the best place to stop for piping-hot pepper shrimp and icy cold coconut jelly. The Black River is 44 miles long and home to The Great Morass, a stunning wetland preserve. Sail through blue sea and navigate upriver—until the water goes dark and mangrove trees arc and shade. It’s there you’ll behold more than 100 species of birds, a bounty of tarpon and snook and the Crocodylus acutus.
Anticipation - Before you leave
As indicated on this website, all trips are comprised of at least 3 different components. Anticipation, experience and memories are all separate delights in their own right. Start enjoying your trip well before leaving by surfing Pack for a Purpose.org to learn about all the various hotels and resorts in Jamaica that offer meaningful side trips to schools and beaches. Read up on the villages located near the hotels and the local folks we may meet, like artists and crafts people. Most importantly, my team will build you a basic website where you can share your anticipation of the trip by collecting photos, links and text and posting them on your site. Seeing your adventure building, perhaps a friend will decide to come with you. Perhaps, when they learn of your philanthropic intentions, your friends or colleagues will decide to chip in for the costs, or the school, sports or medical supplies that you have selected to bring. Before you pick your donation, we need to learn exactly what the teachers, principals, nurses or coaches need us to bring. In advance of going, we make e-contact and make friends with the schools, guides, hotel, transport and other people we are going to meet. (Note: If you simply want to relax in your own room or sit on the beach and read a book, this is NOT the adventure for you.)
Experience - During the adventure
On the trip we shoot still photos and videos of everything that moves! You will learn how to shoot simple portraits and landscapes. We will conduct short video interviews with local folks, shoot “B Roll” (video background and landscapes) for future use in our documentary, ad lib your own voiceovers, frame and light your own photos, archive your collected media and discover how the proper use of a camera can intensify your conscious awareness during your entire adventure. Aside from trips to schools and seeing wildlife, we’ll also enjoy day trips to tropical destinations, good food, comfortable accommodations and lots of time for relaxation and socializing. (Don’t worry; if you don’t want to shoot everything that moves, I will myself!) We enjoy local foods and gather local recipes. We meet local people and wildlife.
After the experience
The adventure isn’t over just because you arrived back home both excited and relaxed at the same time. The story keeps on going. We have now created a relationship with the fine folks we have met, and we can continue that relationship if we wish. First we post our blogs, photos and video clips on the websites that I created for you, and send notification to friends, co-workers and other media and invite them to look at your adventure and perhaps get involved. Do your friends want to replicate your experience? Support the work you have done? No one has ever created a “co-operative travel campaign” like this before, so it’s newsworthy for your local media outlets.
During our visits to the schools, we will donate a digital camera to the principal (I have several) with the proviso that we will raise money for their school projects if they agree to shoot and submit digital photos of selected students and projects on a monthly basis. We will then update our own websites with this new information as we receive it, and use simple social media to inform our friends about these updates. Don’t worry if you don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In or other new media tools; you can share mine.
Then it’s time to think of your next adventure. Jamaica again? Elsewhere in the Caribbean? Central America? East Asia? The magic that makes for a meaningful trip is a combination of warm weather, decent hotels, and close proximity to those folks in nearby villages you wish to meet and to help. No war zones, no volunteering to digging wells or potatoes, no sleeping rough in backpacker hostels, no outrageous costs and wild expenses. Transformative travel is all about changing the world for the better but at the same time as changing yourself. We do it all together!
Treasure Beach information