5 kids’ travel gifts that give back

Parents who want to raise givers instead of getters find the holidays are a perfect time to share family values with children (or friends) of any age. Support a cause you believe in — and inspire older children to give back — by asking them to select an adopt-an-animal program, educational initiative or life-changing organization to donate their stocking stuffer money. In many cases, that small donation will be rewarded with a keepsake they will cherish all year.

Here are five favorite gifts for the globetrotting family looking to give back.

Buy Your Next Trip on an Auction Service Site

Dreaming about a cruise, Caribbean villa vacation or beachfront resort stay? At BiddingforGood.com, you will find one — and feel better about enjoying it — when you learn about the cause it supports. Bidding for Good is an online auction house that helps a variety of causes, projects and non-profits raise money by selling items that have been donated to them.

Best of all, BiddingforGood.com makes it easy for cost-conscious travel shoppers to be cause-conscious without overspending. Typically, a timeshare week donated by a preschool parent, or a Carnival Cruise for two given to the local church, is put up for auction, usually at bargain prices, by a charity looking to maximize the number of bidders. More than 21,000 auctions have been managed to date by BiddingforGood.com, including Major League Baseball tickets, Paris walking tours and a five-night stay at a Riviera Maya resort for a family of four. And Bidding for Good touts that more than 8,000 customers and 450,000 bidders have found causes to support, whether in pursuit of stocking stuffers or holiday presents.

Travel With an Adopted Pet

Are the kids devoted to animals? This holiday season, you won’t have to pay for extra pet-cleaning services at your hotel. Help endangered and rare species through an environmental or animal conservation program that sends certificates, pictures or plush toys in a “symbolic adoption.” Kids will be able to track their new adoptee, learn all about its habitat and take it along on their own travels. Best of all, these conservation gifts are very affordable (unlike the latest gaming consoles).

To fund conservation efforts, protect a giant panda or a red panda by donating to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF, in concert with the government of China, has seen a 17 percent increase in the giant panda population in the past decade. Starting at $55, you can help a good cause and get younger children a plush miniature-sized look-alike of the wild animal in its own carry-on bag. The whole family can pass the time on long flights playing “Wildlife Bingo” (for a $55 contribution), and older kids can carry their favorite snacks in a reusable, stainless steel “Eco Snack Box” (for $55), with two compartments. The best perk: Everything tucks into a carry-on.

Support Children With Toys

How do you get kids to play together instead of looking at their electronic devices? Give them something to play with. Do-gooders of all ages will enjoy a Domino Game Set (for $35) from Save the Children, an organization that strives to help children across the globe by providing them with valuable tools, such as library books, medicine and other educational materials. Handmade in India, the one to six dots on each piece are inlaid brass, and the set is contained in a box made of sheesham wood. Donations go to Save the Children’s Global Action Fund, which ensures that all programs in childhood nutrition, health and education are fully funded for less fortunate children. Make sure the recipients of this classic game understand that notion as they perfect their math skills on the road.

Carry On John Muir’s Great Work With His Carry-On

Those who know the work of conservationist John Muir, famous for his efforts to protect the Yosemite Valley at the turn of the 20th century, will want to support The Sierra Club, the grassroots organization he founded in 1892.

Budding naturalists will love the canvas replica Muir backpack that comes with supporting any of the 17 wild animals in the symbolic adoption program. With a “Sea Otter Adoption”(for $79), for example, a toy, an eight-page book about otters with an adoption certificate and a backpack are delivered to your home. Load up the backpack for the next family visit to San Francisco, where the playful creatures can be seen in real life at Pier 39. And for a more hands-on contribution, the whole family can join one of the many global Sierra Club overnight outings, such as the one to improve trails at California’s Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where more otters await.

Pack for a Purpose and Make a Difference

The best present of all can be the joy of giving something you value to others, especially when traveling to a new culture.

The non-profit Pack for a Purpose has great tips on what’s needed (such as school supplies) at various destinations, which items to donate and how to pack so that your host destination gets the most benefit from your charity. Wrap up the same items you want to donate as a present for your own children. And when you arrive, it will be easy for them to understand how their gifts will give back to the children at your destination.

More from U.S. News

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7 Reasons to Volunteer on Your Next Vacation

5 Kids’ Travel Gifts That Give Back originally appeared on usnews.com

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