If you want a vacation that’s off the beaten path this year, why not consider a volunteer vacation. Voluntourism is the travel industry’s newest hot trend, matching willing volunteers with projects all over the world that need help. You can see an area of the world you’ve always wanted to see and help provide local needs at the same time.
Don’t misunderstand me – volunteer vacations are work. You may spend long days working, so you may want to extend your vacation by a few days just for sightseeing. But, what you’ll gain by spending at least part of your vacation volunteering is a much more intimate view of the area you’re visiting. You’ll have time to get to know locals and to understand what it feels like to live in this part of the world, as opposed to just vacationing here.
No matter where in the world you’d like to visit, there are likely volunteer opportunities waiting for you. There are plenty of voluntourism companies who can help match you with a project that needs your skills in an area you’d like to visit. But, if you can find a project on your own, without using one of these companies, you’ll save a lot of money.
Voluntourism companies have sprung up everywhere, and they do help travellers hook up with a project in an area where they have interest. They also verify the volunteer opportunities to ensure that the ones that truly have the most need are getting their fair share of volunteers. But all these services increase the cost of your volunteer vacation by about double.
And speaking of costs, it is important to understand that a volunteer vacation is not free. Most of the programs looking for volunteers cannot afford to cover your travel expenses. So, you’ll need to make a budget for what you can afford to spend on a vacation and then find a program that works with that budget.
To help find a volunteer program on your own, start by visiting IPVA (International Volunteer Programs Association). Their site can give you lots of information about volunteering abroad and help you find links to programs where you might have interest.
A volunteer vacation is a great way to visit a part of the world you’ve never seen and to feel like you’ve contributed to the world in a positive way at the same time. Check out the programs available. You’ll find that there are programs in the United States for those who want to stay close to home as well as all over the globe.