Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Taking a trip with other ecologically-minded people has many benefits. The obvious benefit is that you already have many things in common with your companions. Some may already be SCUBA divers, and others may be planning to get certified. Because divers enjoy getting new people into diving, new divers have built-in mentors and people who are typically enthusiastic to share their love of diving. Those adventuring for a common good - maybe coral restoration, shark conservation, invasive species studies, whale shark research, or any other environmental goal - are natural born adventurers. Your down time has built-in common activities and natural discussions over meals or drinks. This makes it really easy to travel solo. For students, there is built-in age-appropriate activities and oversight. With social media making connections last, it’s not uncommon to keep in contact and even plan future travel with new friends and for similar purposes. As your fellow explorers connect with their own networks, they can share interesting programs they discover for all ages and areas of interest. Students can also benefit from having meaningful experience to include in their portfolios for high school and college applications, as well as the potential to earn service credits.
There are a number of considerations for planning such a trip. You need to be sure the organization you travel with has experience, is the right size for what is being accomplished, is personalized and follows eco-responsible practices. Do not assume the large “name brand” companies will offer what you really want, by way of a truly custom-curated and meaningful experience. The Director should be willing to get on the telephone with you personally, to address any questions or clarifications you may have. The organization should be able to discuss why they are conducting the trip, what similar trips they have successfully run previously, offer references if you request them and describe what the ratios will be for various activities. For student programs, communication, safety and health assurances should be described in detail. Other considerations include your own expectations. Answers to questions such as “How will time be spent?,” “What activities will be taking place, and with whom?” and “What will accommodations and food include?” are important.
While it may take getting out of your comfort zone to pursue this alternative travel experience, you will likely find that you enjoy the combination of getting involved in something bigger, spending time with people sharing your interest, and learning while you vacation. Be flexible, try something new, adventure to a new place and do some good, while you are at it!