What is voluntourism?

What is voluntourism?
It is a conscious amalgamation of a voluntary service to a destination with traditional elements of travel.

In simple words, choose a destination and a type of voluntary service which satiates your travel needs as well. It can have elements such as arts, culture, geography, history and recreation.

Taste of Voluntourism
Combining travel and volunteering, voluntourism is a popular trend now. Whether it is for helping the environment or the local community, voluntourism or traveling to volunteer for a charitable cause, is one of the most dynamic trends afoot. It is a word that is both awkward and elegant, and at times misinterpreted as well.

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One of the classes.

How to plan for voluntourism

Decide on time frame you can afford to do the volunteer service.
Voluntourism is not just for travelers who have months to spare abroad. Short terms or catering to a specific goal is also very popular. Understand the length of your vacation and plan your favorite activities accordingly. Major natural calamities and disasters such as Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami inspired many to go there and give back to society. But sometimes you don’t want to wait for such things to happen and can be more effective in other areas that are not a part of the news. 🙂

Choose your destination.
Whether it is in your own country or abroad, choose your destination depending on the time frame. There are many organizations in India itself if you have decided so.
Among foreign countries, voluntourism is a growing trend in Thailand, Cambodia, Africa, Costa Rica, New Orleans & the Gulf Coast.

siem reap school @lemonicks.com

Three little beauties. Though I wasn’t teaching them, everyday they’d come running to me to say “HELLO”. 😀

Choose type of work you want to do.
Here I would suggest you to go for what you like to do or can do as per your profession, hobby or condition of physical health.
For example, if teaching / interacting with kids is your genre, there are hundreds of opportunities waiting for you. Teaching a subject, sport or helping in developing some hobbies like music, dance, painting, playing an instrument … the choices are a many for both school & college levels. You can also help in building schools, admin work, and providing medical care. There is a great demand for translators if you know the local language.
There are many destinations where you can help protect unique environments and cultures. There are some eco-minded tours as well.

For my trip to Cambodia, I had very interesting choices for volunteering. 😀

Set your budget.
Voluntourism can be experienced on any budget tour and for any age; however it is advisable to research a range of types of commitment before picking one. A true volunteer experience usually requires more than providing your travel dates. There are both free voluntary services and paid services where YOU have to pay a fee to do the service. My own preference is to go for free services.

Choose your program
How much time do you want for yourself. How much time do you need to see the place around. There are programs which can keep you busy the whole week and there are others which give you the flexibility. I had opted for 5 day a week schedule so during weekends I could do my own things … wash clothes, buy groceries, attend some classes, see the neighbouring places.

What to expect
Warning. Do not expect the place a fully comfort zone for you. There can be a dress code at your place of work. I had one. Home country or abroad, prepare yourself to deal with a different language, food, and culture.
Be emotionally strong, there are going to be moments when you’d want to leave everything and run back home.

Even if you are going for a paid volunteer service then generally, fees for volunteer programs can be compared to costs for a budget vacation but standards are almost always lower than those of a typical pleasure trip. If you are provided an accommodation by the organization, then the rooms are shared, meals are self-catering, and toilet facilities will not be of a five-star-hotel caliber. Be prepared for that. Some websites that look more fun than work with glamorous photos are generally much more expensive.

Note:- On this trip, I managed every single expense out of my own pocket.

P.S.- If you want to travel places with me, I suggest you to join me on my Facebook travel page.
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10 thoughts on “What is voluntourism?

  1. Dear Nisha,

    I so enjoy your space..! Quite sometime back I had hit upon the idea of
    volunteering. But my kids were small and it just never happened. Thanks to you I am inspired again 🙂

  2. Its the first time I am introduced to this idea… thanks to your blog. I would certainly explore voluntourism more often now and would share my experiences with you.

  3. I actually just spent a month in Costa Rica working at a sloth sanctuary reserve. It was actually quite pricey and not exactly what I thought it would be. I blogged about my experience. I think it is important to do some research in the cause that you will be working for as well. Trip advisor some times has good reviews for stuff like that. None the less I got some awesome photos and one on one experience with these amazing creatures.

  4. The W of W,
    First, welcome to my blog.

    Second, it must have been an awesome experience for you. Yeah, sometimes we get fooled by the excitement we have. .. without thinking of the consequences. Nevertheless it’s a good experience. 🙂

    Third, I would appreciate if you write your original name while
    commenting. We are all humans here and like to discuss in that capacity.

    Thanks.

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