A volunteer vacation or voluntourism is one of the fastest travel trends in the world today. Voluntourism is a fairly new term that denotes a greener kind of travel strategy. It involves a mixture of touring and volunteering, or travel that involves an element of volunteering for a charitable cause.Voluntourism may involve low-skilled work such as clearing land or helping care for wildlife. Or, trained professionals can donate their skills in needy areas or for needy people. Usually it is pre-organized with a level of tourism and sightseeing, as well as the volunteer work, included in the cost.
Benefits of Voluntourism
- Helping people. At the core of voluntourism is the desire to help those less fortunate and lend a hand to a charitable cause while experiencing new places and new things. Voluntourism is all about doing something good and travelling at the same time.
- Get off the beaten track. Voluntourism often takes people to places, communities, villages and areas of the countryside that those on the regular tourist track usually don’t get to see. Even better, you’ll get to work and meet with locals and gain a firsthand insight into the local culture and customs.
- Giving skills as opposed to money. Although money donations are crucial to charitable causes, particularly because they usually qualify as a tax deductable donation, organizations also need manpower and skills to put into action the changes and initiatives that charitable donations fund. Lending your time and skills is an important and valuable contribution to aid efforts around the world.
- Pick your destination. Because voluntourism is also a holiday and will involve some sightseeing or touring, it’s important to pick a destination that interests you. Luckily, there are a number of destinations that offer voluntourism opportunities so you’ll be able to travel to, and help out in a country you’re interested in visiting.
The keys to having a successful and enjoyable Volunteer Vacation involve a number of considerations.
- Establish the purpose of your trip. If you are looking primarily to take a vacation and want to sample a volunteer experience for a day or two, then the tour’s itinerary should include more tour activities and less volunteer work. If the major focus of the trip is volunteer work, then the itinerary should reflect this.
- Decide who will coordinate the volunteer vacation tour. You may do your own research and work with a tour coordinator at the company.
- Determine a budget for your tour. It is important to know in advance how much money you can afford to spend and how much your tour is likely to cost. A budget will allow you to make choices for the experiences you can afford.
- Decide where to stay. Use the type, price and location of your accommodations to narrow your choices. Some choices include a luxury hotel, guest house, apartment, or bed and breakfast.
- Determine your tolerance level for challenging situations. Some aspects of voluntourism will expose you to extreme poverty.
So whatever your interests may be, if you want to get a little more out of life and out of your vacation, consider including some volunteer work in your travels. You will gain way more than you give.
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