Local writer Meg James is no stranger to travel. As a child raised mainly in New Jersey, she spent summers in Japan, England, and France because of her father’s global operations with Cigna. “That pretty much explains the itch that I have to travel,” shares Meg. Today, she is a wife and industrious mother of two, and that itch is never quite satisfied.
After graduating from Jacksonville University, Meg worked in Human Resources for a renowned fashion entity. Still, she was an entrepreneur at heart who loved creating close-knit connections. So after leaving the corporate grind and having kids, she started creating mom-centric communities in Northeast Florida. Among them was The Real House Moms of Nocatee – founded circa 2014. The organization grew quickly from 10 to 2,500 members. Giving back to the community was a major goal of their work as they donated thousands of dollars to various causes.
This emphasis on giving back would later parlay into Meg’s God-first family travel blog, Trekking Twice. The faith perspective helped her platform fill a unique niche. “The faith articles that I write…have the most views,” shares Meg with a warm, content smile. When she started the blog in 2017, her youngest son was approaching two years old. Meanwhile, full-time travel was trending. But such a drastic measure wasn’t a good fit for her family. “Let’s trek twice,” Meg suggested to her husband Logan. “Let’s go on two trips a year, one with our kids and one without.” The plan evolved with more purpose – whether journeying through Scotland, Costa Rica, or Peru, the Jameses are increasingly on the lookout for hotels that give back substantially.
To date, Meg has identified 40 establishments that give the majority of their revenue to charities and ministries. Among them is Peru’s Sol y Luna, who helps schools improve infrastructure and organize athletic and cultural events. “250 children that would not go to school otherwise, go to school fully funded by the hotel,” Meg relates. Sol y Luna also offers jobs to parents within the Incan community. In the San Carlos canton of Costa Rica is the Nayara Springs Resort. Their generous impact involves funding an orphanage, providing free transportation to and from schools and offering employment to locals. A directory of Meg’s findings is housed at www.goanddogood.com, a separate initiative with the same mission as Trekking Twice.
Meg wants travelers to “consider hotels that are generous givers to charities, ministries, or their local communities over hotels that are simply profiting for their own gain.” When she discovers a place that make the cut, Meg says, “it’s like finding a diamond in the rough.”
When enjoying what St. Augustine offers in terms of hospitality, Meg is a big fan of the Collector Inn. Her favorite family outings involve photo shoots at the Castillo, dinner at Columbia, and strolls down St. George Street (ice cream in hand). We’re most grateful that this innovative Jersey girl found her way to our old city.