Book your dream volunteer vacation in Hawaii — “It’ll make you proud” says Alaska employee & Hawaiian

travel2change makes it easier for travelers to find and participate in authentic educational and cultural experiences during their visit.  (Photos by Matt Kent/travel2change)

Imagine you and your loved ones are excitedly planning a future trip to Hawaii. You’re looking forward to sandy beaches and that fresh, cool breeze brushing through your hair, for sure, but this pre-trip eagerness feels more special than any other vacation. More meaningful. Because on this trip, you will be prioritizing time to build a deeper connection with Hawaii through purposeful activities curated by travel2change. 

Starting now, Alaska guests can book volunteer experiences in Hawaii with the help of travel2change, a Hawaii-based social and environmental impact organization designed to connect travelers to fun, enriching activities that create a positive benefit for communities across the Hawaiian Islands.  

Here’s how it works:  

  1. After you’ve booked your trip on alaskaair.com to one of the Hawaiian Islands, you can find volunteer experiences to do during your visit. 

  1. Select the island you’ll be visiting.  

  1. Choose a category (currently, there are nine options, ranging from beach activities to culture-based experiences).   

  1. Select and confirm dates for the activity.  

  1. Sleep easy knowing you will be engaging with local organizations and improving your travel experience by deepening your cultural awareness.  

Me with my new friend, Mondy Jamshidi Kent of travel2change. 

By giving back to Hawaii, not only will you get that tingly, feel-good warmth, but you get to understand this special place in a much more satisfying way than just beachside hangouts and tropical hikes. With travel2change, you will walk away with a deeper, more meaningful connection to Hawaii. And when you think about it, isn’t that what travel is all about? Expand your adventures in a purposeful way, leaving things better than you found them, sharing your mindful encounters with others to do the same. With travel2change, you’re not just on vacation – you’re part of a fulfilling cultural educational experience.  

As someone born in Hawaii with cultural and ohana (family) connections, I often get asked what to do while visiting the islands — and honestly, what comes to mind is “visit thoughtfully,” which is why I’m excited about this partnership with travel2change. Last weekend, I was able to try the collaboration out myself. I booked travel to Oahu and signed up to get down-and-dirty in the loi kalo, or taro farm, with my peers and other community partners.  

I grew up hearing stories about how my family, including my mom and her six siblings, spent their weekends in the loi kalo, sludging their way through the mud patties just as I did (but with much better practice and skill). So, I was humbled to experience something similar.  

Alongside my peers from Alaska and volunteers with travel2change, all of us rolled up our sleeves. We sloshed knee-deep through a mud pond, pulling weeds and breaking up mounds of dirt to engage in the traditional and sustainable Hawaiian practice of readying the loi (irrigated terrace) so that a healthy patch of kalo (taro plant) could grow and thrive.

Aloha spirits cultivate large heart-shaped plants 

What’s special about taro plants? A large heart-shaped plant, taro is an edible starchy root vegetable most commonly used in Hawaii to make poi, a paste-like pudding made from pounding the taro plant with water. Poi is a staple in the islands, known to Hawaiians as “the staff of life” because of its history of sustenance, feeding kaiaulu, or communities, for generations as a primary food source. Out of deep respect and gratitude, Hawaiians continue to look after the taro plant in a similar relationship as you would an elder sibling who carries the responsibility of providing for their ohana

Many of us didn’t know each other’s names just hours prior – and there we were, gleefully slathered in wet dirt, mud-stomping side-by-side in the warm sun with joyful taro-shaped hearts. 

And that’s what makes me so proud of Alaska’s partnership with travel2change, the opportunity for visitors near and far to experience that same feeling I felt of positive impact – on the aina (land), kaiaulu, and in the heart of Hawaii.  

After being given permission, many of us ventured together to a nearby stream to wash off, plunging into the chilly water following a morning of hard work. Yet, despite the belly-deep laughter and boisterous debriefing from the group as our feet touched the fuzzy rocks five feet below, there was a feeling of stillness.   

Fulfillment. If I had listened close enough, I would’ve hoped to hear the echoes of my kupuna (ancestors), making them proud of a job well done. Not just as a Hawaiian, but as someone giving back in thanks for all that Hawaii has given me.  

Watch me & other volunteers in action (until :40) on KHON’s Living808

Malama Hawaii  

Since the pandemic, local residents and state officials have encouraged visitors to discover ways to malama, or take care of, the Hawaiian Islands.  

As an Alaska employee and Native Hawaiian, I’m proud we came together to find a way to make it easier for guests to book rewarding travel experiences through travel2change. 

5 ways to malama (care for) Hawaii

After a tumultuous year, it was refreshing to finally be together again and to give back.   

Book your next trip to Hawaii today at alaskaair.com

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