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Photo by Kyle Szegedi

Do you believe we are all destined for purpose? We do. Summertime has finally arrived and you know what that means, warm nights spent looking at the stars, sizzling burgers on the backyard grill, frozen fruity cocktails served poolside, and sand between your toes. But what’s my favorite part of summer?  Without hesitation I can tell you it’s taking a summer vacation.  After a bitter winter filled with deadlines, projects, and stress, summer vacation promises an escape from the daily bustle.

Whether soaking up the sun on a tropical beach or traversing rocky terrains on a mountain hike, take some time to live inspired and give back to people and organizations that need your help.

1. Phuket, Thailand // Escape to the crystal blue waters, luscious forests, and tranquility of a quaint, cliffside town in Thailand.  This luxury resort soothes your mind and rejuvenates your body with the calming magnificence of nature and idyllic hotel accommodations.  Paresa Resort has partnered with six of the regions most esteemed chefs to benefit The Good Shepherd Sisters.  The Good Shepherd Sisters provides women and children in need with education and resources so that they can reclaim their lives and become independent.  Paresa’s boutique also sells goods made by these women.  Last year, Phuket began hosting the “Six of the Best” fundraiser, which showcased six of the region’s renowned chefs and raised over $20,000. www.paresaresorts.com

2. Namibia, Africa // Pedal through southern Africa and become immersed in its rich culture and natural beauty.  Austin Adventures - Adventure Travel is a travel company that satisfies your thirst for exhilaration and excitement.  All of Austin Adventures - Adventure Travel tours in Namibia support Wheels of Change, a nonprofit that donates new and used bicycles to empower rural villages in Africa.  Travel and Leisure Magazine recognized their dedication to giving back with a Global Vision Award in 2011 for Corporate Innovation. www.austinadventures.com

3.  Nevis, West Indies // Amidst white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, you’ll find the only historic plantation inn in the Caribbean.  Travel back in time to a tranquil retreat where you can enjoy fine dining, relaxation, and serene solitude.  In 1999, Nisbet adopted a primary school in Nevis and has helped to establish mentoring, literacy, and after school programs.   Because of this program, reading levels have improved and Nevis has a higher literacy rate (98%) than the rest of the Caribbean. www.nisbetplantation.com

4.  Riviera Maya, Mexico // Explore the twisted vines of mangrove swamps and towering ancient Mayan ruins at the Fairmont Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya.  Sooth your body and eliminate stress at the five star hotel’s spa or enjoy a game of golf at Mexico’s only PGA course.  Do you always over pack for vacation?  Leave the extra pair of shoes home so that you can use that extra space to Pack For a Purpose.  Pack for a Purpose encourages travelers to pack items to support Save The Children, a nonprofit that provides a safe environment for economically and socially deprived children while their parents are still at work. www.packforapurpose.org

5.  Kenya, Africa // Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Immerse yourself in African wildlife and traditional villages on a Cheli and Peacock safari.  Kenya’s leading destination management company takes you on a journey through Kenya’s tropical coast.  You can also channel your inner warrior at three Cheli Peacock properties which offer a junior program led by the Masai.  Each Cheli and Peacock property supports local charities, such as Big Life Foundation, Loisaba Conservation Foundation, Kibera Paper Project, and C&P Trust.  They are dedicated to enriching their local communities by expanding schools and clinics, employing local staff, and busying food supplied from local vendors. www.chelipeacock.com

6. Zambia, Africa // Hands Up Holidays gives you the power to customize a luxury vacation in philanthropic style.  Why not travel to Zambia where you can visit Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls and fish for tigerfish or the rare grand vundu in the Zambezi River.  Hands Up Holidays partners with The Butterfly Charity to provide aid and resources to African communities devastated by HIV and AIDS.  For instance, when taking a break from sightseeing, you can restore hope in the lives of a widow and her children by helping to build a house for them to start a new life. www.handsupholidays.com

7. Sedona, Arizona // Soar above a gold and indigo sky in a hot air balloon to explore the majestic canyons and countryside of Sedona, Arizona.  El Portal Sedona Hotel is pet friendly hacienda that offers something for everyone, whether you are interested in a relaxing sanctuary or jeep tour of the Grand Canyon.  El Portal Sedona Hotel gives back to its local community by offering free garden spots to foster sustainable agriculture and support local farmers. www.elportalsedona.com

8.  Palo Alto, California // Slow down your multitasking-NYC lifestyle with a relaxing trip to the West Coast.  You don’t need to leave the country to visit cultural and architectural landmarks, such as Palo Alto’s Cantor Arts Center, Rodin Sculpture Garden, and Hoover Tower.  When you’re in Palo Alto, be sure to attend SFJAZZ Summerfest.  SFJAZZ is a nonprofit organization that provides jazz education programs to people of all ages.  This program not only keeps the art of jazz alive, but also brings the community together with the cultural power of music. www.sfjazz.org

9. St. Helena, California // Are you a wine connoisseur?  Tour Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley’s first winery, to learn how your favorite wines are cultivated from grape to bottle.  For ten years, Charles Krug winery has hosted dinner auctions at Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  They have raised over $300,000 to make the dreams of children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses come true. www.charleskrug.com

10. Lake Placid, New York // Dive into the clear, refreshing waters of Mirror Lake to cool down after an active afternoon of canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.  Trade NYC’s skyscrapers and frenzy for the sprawling hills and vibrant natural landscapes of the Adirondacks.  The Mirror Lake Inn gives back by hostng Joy to the Children, a holiday benefit that raises money for education and children’s programs in Lake Placid. www.mirrorlakeinn.com

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