Global volunteer opportunities
Are you tired of laying on a beach on your vacation? Are you looking for something more meaningful to do while you’re away or do you want to combine travel with volunteering? Perhaps you’ve heard of others' experiences while performing mission work and that appeals to you, but maybe not the faith-based slant. Whatever the motivation – if you’d like to volunteer outside of where you live, then “voluntouring” is something you may be interested in!
There are several travel companies that specialize in volunteer tourism. They can be geared towards families or group opportunities, single travelers and some that are senior friendly. They can be project based, or you can participate in ongoing tasks. Just Google “volunteer vacations” and you will find a myriad of companies who will be happy to send you to a place of your choice to perform a wide variety of tasks from building villages, to conducting environmental research, to working in a sloth sanctuary.
Be aware though, that these voluntours are still considered vacations after all and you will be spending a fair amount of money for your travel and accommodations. For example, a 2-week, pretty much all-inclusive volunteer vacation working with turtles in Greece can cost around $1600 per person, but that doesn’t include flights. Because the word “volunteer” is involved, many people are shocked to find out that they have to pay for the experience.
Ethics of Volunteering Internationally
What seems like a great idea, rooted in altruism can actually be a very tricky area to navigate. It's important to make sure that the help you are so generously offering is in fact needed, or wanted! Much has been written about the ethics of volunteering in what are described as "developing" countries, that you are urged to read and then consider carefully. Here's one of them!
Local Volunteer Vacations
If you like the concept but don’t want to travel outside of North America, or even Canada, you can still do some destination volunteering on local organic farms, animal sanctuaries, and even work on some projects on some First Nations communities.
Plan Your Own Volunteer Vacation
Of course, if you are planning to travel to a foreign country in which you are unfamiliar with the language and culture, then a company is the best way to go. If you are thinking of a place closer or that you know very well, you can always research volunteer projects or opportunities in that area and then make arrangements to volunteer while you're there on vacation. You will make all of your own travel arrangements but perhaps you’d save some money.
Be Careful – Do Your Homework
Regardless of how you choose to travel and volunteer – it is important that you do a lot of research before you book. Be sure to get all the details of every aspect of your trip. What’s covered in the price, what is required of you to volunteer, what kind of accommodation will you be staying in? There have been several TV features and articles written about unmet expectations of volunteer travelers – so be sure to find out all you need to know before you click “buy now” on your computer. Talk to other volunteers, ask lots of questions. Again, Google is most useful in researching this kind of information.
Here are some helpful links:
Volunteering while on vacation can be a memorable and possibly even life-changing experience. If you take some time to think about what you’d like to do and the place you’d like to do it, then follow that up with some sound research, you may just have the time of your life!