Posted by: Sara S. | April 21, 2009

Pay to frolic with penguins; feel better about yourself

It’s one thing to blow a few paychecks on a sightseeing trip to Europe with your family. It’s quite another to spend $2,000 on a trip to Antarctica if you’re going to fight climate change. At least, that’s what the down-and-out travel industry wants you to think.

In this week’s Practical Traveler c0lumn, New York T

imes journo Michelle Higgins observes the newest trend in recession travel: agencies who think travelers will be more willing to fork over the big bucks if a trip is less self-indulgent, more philanthropic. Luxe travel company Abercrombie & Kent offers tours that feature volunteering or giving back to the visited community, including a jaunt to Antarctica. Or, you can book with Sierra Club Outings, whose “service” trips allow volunteers to help eradicate invasive plants in Channel Islands National Park in California or maintain trails in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

“Even people who have money to spend are feeling somewhat a sense of guilt in spending money when reading and hearing of difficult times for so many other people,” says Edward Piegza, president of Classic Journeys, in the NYT article. “But if they can see their spending is actually having a positive impact in some way, they are more able to justify to themselves that their travel is doing good.”

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