Voluntourism is a relatively new way of traveling that is growing in popularity around the world. Voluntourism – also called volunteer holidays, volunteer tourism or volunteer travel is the act of taking a working holiday, exchanging time skills and labour for worthy causes. Voluntourism is similar to eco-tourism in that the objective of people volunteering is to improve lives.

 

Volunteering overseas is a very different experience from a typical resort or sightseeing holiday. Voluntouring offers a more authentic traveling experience, and allows you to engage with the locals in the country you’re visiting. You form relationships with the country’s people as you live and work alongside them.

 

Volunteering abroad is an exciting and rewarding activity. Your dedication and hard work in fostering positive change in the world will touch many lives. This makes your visit to a foreign country so much more special than a traditional vacation. Are you ready to visit exotic locations and help change lives for the better at the same time? Read on to find out more about the benefits of voluntourism, and some tips for finding the right volunteer opportunity.

 

The Benefits of Voluntourism

 

Immersion in a new culture

 

Visiting a foreign country as a regular tourist can make you feel like an outsider. Voluntourism helps you feel a stronger connection to the country and its people. Some volunteering holidays offer homestays. Homestays are a great way to get to know the locals and eat authentic ethnic cuisine. Some people like volunteering in their own car, truck or RV, as it means they don’t have to forgo simple luxuries like seat covers form Shear Comfort, a pantry packed with familiar foods from home that make for a more enjoyable experience.

 

An inexpensive, yet meaningful vacation

 

Voluntouring opportunities are offered by philanthropic organizations that offer homestays or other cost-effective methods of accommodation. The price of a volunteering trip usually includes meals and accommodation.

 

Skill development

 

Volunteers and languages as they work with the country’s locals. By interacting with your host family, you could also learn local recipes and cooking techniques.

 

Gratitude

 

Volunteer holidays are much more gratifying than an indulgent vacation at a luxury resort. The gratitude of the people whose lives you’ve changed is the biggest benefit of voluntouring.

 

Tips for Choosing a Voluntouring Offer

 

Traditionally, overseas volunteering opportunities were long-term skills-focused placements run by humanitarian organizations, educational institutions, NGOs, and religious groups. The Nevada Board of Tourism (NBT) was the first organization to use the word voluntourism. Today, tour companies offer a wide range of short-term volunteering opportunities – from helping teach a second language to building homes – to individuals who are unable to commit to a longer placement. According to the American Travel and Tourism Agency, the most popular types of overseas volunteering projects are construction, education, and working with children.

 

Overwhelmed by the number of volunteering tours out there? Here are a few tips on finding the best voluntourism opportunity for you.

 

  • Narrow your purpose. Clearly define your reasons for going on a volunteering holiday. Choose an agency that aligns with your goals.

 

  • Do due diligence. Run a background check on the organization. Note how long the organization has been in operation, and look for online reviews. Reputable organizations will be forthcoming with information. An organization named should be happy to provide information on what they do and how accounts are handled. When choosing a tour operator, transparency is key.

 

  • Research the destination. Read up on the local customs of the region or regions you’re considering. Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the most popular destinations.

 

  • Consider your skills. Pick a working holiday that’s suited to your interests and abilities. You shouldn’t attempt to perform a job overseas that you aren’t otherwise qualified to do.

 

  • Avoid orphanages. A 2014 study revealed that many of the children living in orphanages are not, in fact, orphans. In Cambodia, voluntouring has actually increased the number of children living in orphanages.

 

When deciding what type of volunteering to do abroad, consider your passions and interests. Your trip isn’t just for the benefit of others, but for your benefit as well. Helping people is awesome. Just don’t forget to choose your own adventure while you’re off saving the world.

 

Jackie Ambrose works in the travel industry and finds herself sitting on planes, trains and boats a lot. To make the most of this time she gets her laptop out and writes travel articles for various websites and blogs.

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