I often find myself taking life for granted. It’s hard not to find myself in this bubble where the confines of a city, pub, apartment, and bedroom have me feeling so comfortable. Yet those feelings of complacency are one of the many reasons why I travel like I do. Travel humbles me and provides much needed perspective that isn’t so easy to come by in my day-to-day life. I remember my first big trip abroad, a two-month trip to Southern Africa when my eyes were really opened to the realities of this world. I saw firsthand that everyday parts of my life, such as three nourishing meals a day and clean drinking water, were luxuries in other parts of the world. That summer of travel in Africa forever changed my life and gave me new outlook on life and travel. As I’ve submerged myself more into the travel community I’ve noticed that I’m not alone.

It’s with great pleasure to tell you again this holiday season about Passports with Purpose. Starting just a few years ago with a few travel lovers in Seattle, Passports with Purpose has grown every year since, with more travel bloggers participating each year and the backing of travel companies that include Expedia and TripIt. The organization works with a different charity annually around the holidays, with past projects that have included building an entire village in India and building libraries in Zambia. This year’s beneficiary is Water.org, who will be using the money to build wells in Haiti for people who have limited access to sanitary water.

Maybe you’re wondering how travel bloggers and companies get involved with Passports with Purpose each year. Well that’s actually where you come in. You see, there are prizes available when you donate. No, I’m not talking about prizes like the Fraggle Rock Veggie Cruisers (As cool as that is) found in Happy Meals in the late 1980s (Wait, I didn’t just date myself did I?). I’m talking big prizes. Like a $10 donation could get you a $100 shopping spree to Victoria’s Secret or even bigger (No hidden meaning or pun intended), a cruise down the Amazon River. Here on my travel blog last year I gave away a stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

Travel bloggers from around the world procure a long wish list of prizes, from cameras to hotel stays to travel gear to gift certificates and much more. Just a $10 donation is required to be entered to win a prize of your choice. Of course you can donate much more to be entered to win. If you feel so persuaded, donate $2,500. And I didn’t just come up with that number, but rather that represents the 100 people you would be giving water to for a lifetime, as it costs approximately $25 to provide water for just one person during the course of their life. That’s like the price of a few gallons of gas.

Passports with Purpose 2012 Sponsored by Expedia

At last night’s Passports with Purpose launch party in Seattle, it was heartwarming to see how this project has brought the travel blogging community together and grown in the last few years. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the Passports with Purpose video above, but once again last night I got chills as I watched the video above about a region of the world, Southern Africa, which left such an indelible mark on me. While travel is so often about what we get out of the experience, it’s nice to be a part of something that hones in on what travelers can give others. Yet seeing the effect of that giving often leaves us with joy that not just any trip can provide.

While this year’s Passports with Purpose officially kicked off yesterday, you have until December 11, 11:59PM (EST) to donate to this year’s goal of $100,000 for Water.org. For further updates, you can follow Passports with Purpose on Twitter and Facebook, or follow the conversation with the #PwP hashtag. While I do in fact have an on-going partnership with Expedia, a platinum sponsor of Passports with Purpose, I put on my big boy britches to write this of my own accord. I wasn’t paid to write it and truth be told, abstained from buying lottery tickets for the big ‘ole $550 million Powerball jackpot to donate because this is a cause that I believe in. Happy donating and happy holidays from The Traveling Philosopher!