Tired of the same, repetitive itinerary each time you travel? Why not try voluntourism?
What is voluntourism?
Volunteer Tourism or voluntourism is becoming such a trend around the world now. It is when people take part in volunteering activities while they travel. Unlike the typical idea of “sightseeing” and “relaxing”, voluntourism makes vacation into more than just taking pictures and having fun. It actually allows travellers to engage with the community in the place they are visiting, form relationships, and contribute to more worthwhile projects like tree planting, clean-up drives, save-mother-nature activities, education caravans, and a lot more—while still enjoying their vacation.
What are the benefits of voluntourism?
Here are some awesome reasons to upgrade your vacation for a volunteer trip:
1. Begin an enriching journey
As you enjoy holiday vacation with your friends, family, or yourself, being a volunteer will give you a chance to challenge yourself in a new environment. More than just having a trip, you can actually get to know the place you’re visiting more closely, have a glimpse of their daily lives, understand their culture, and appreciate their heritage.
For example, teaching local kids may not only allow you to share your knowledge, but also provide you with deeper and new insights about children that you may not know before.
2. Experience things first-hand
No matter how carefully planned your itinerary is, there are certain things that you’re really going to miss. But by being a volunteer, you will get to experience things like a local. Rather than joining crowds of other tourists in restaurants just to taste that region’s native delicacy, community immersions can give you a chance to learn and cook it yourself.
3. Create memories that will last
Ever had those moments when you spend days or a week outside the city or country? When you came back home and all the memories that you have is just the mountain, view of the beach, and the name of the hotel you stayed? With voluntourism, you’ll get to meet different kinds of people. Each encounter might give you something that you will cherish. It can be a simple act of kindness from a stranger, the friends that you gain at a volunteering project, or an important life lesson you learned from your journey.
What are the things that I need to consider before joining voluntourism?
1. Do some research about the organization/company you would like to join
Before you register for volunteering, make sure to have a list of the reputable organizations to work with first. Research different voluntourism groups online. Know what they do, and their cause. Be wary of companies that charge incredibly high fees and exploit the environment, animals, or people without really having regard for their welfare. It would be helpful to ask previous volunteers from the organization about their experiences.
2. Check if your qualifications match the needs
Are you the right person for the job? Many orgs don’t require specific set of skills for its volunteers, but it still makes sense to assess your experiences and see if it is suited to a certain type of program. Aligning your skill set with the project you are interested in doing will help ensure that your contributions will be valuable.
3. Know the routines and activities that will be required
Be prepared for the different tasks that you will encounter. Some may require physically draining tasks under varied weather conditions so it’s important to know exactly the routines ahead of time.
4. Make realistic expectations
You sitting at a round table enjoying delicious meals and exchanging great conversations with the locals may not always happen. Sometimes, weather conditions can also get in your way in creating IG-worthy panoramic shots. Acknowledging that not all things are bright and beautiful and appreciating these differences are what makes voluntourism worthwhile.
Voluntourism can be an exciting opportunity for you to travel, learn, and give back to the society. Whether you are planning for a short term or long term project, you will find that you, too, have the power to make a real impact not only on your surroundings, but also on yourself.