We’ve got just the thing to add to your travel wish list. Taking a vacation is awesome – so is the feeling of giving back to the community. Why not do both? The next time you take a vacation, why not give back and have fun at the same time? For this installment of Monday Motivation, we’re taking a closer look at voluntourism.
What is voluntourism?
As you may have guessed, the term “voluntourism” is a combination of “volunteering” and “tourism.” While there are many different types of voluntourism, it comes down to this: you decide on a country, a means of volunteering, and how long you’d like to stay. Your room and board is included in the price of your vacation. You spend a select amount of hours volunteering each day, and when you’re not giving back, you get free time to explore the region. Neat, huh?
How long are voluntourism trips?
It’s entirely up to you! Generally, the shortest duration is two weeks, but if you really want to, many places allow you to stay for as many as 50 weeks. That’s one of the perks of voluntourism: it’s extremely flexible.
Can you volunteer as a couple?
Yes! It’s very easy to find opportunities for solo travelers, couples, and even larger groups.
What kinds of voluntourism is there?
While there are many different sub-categories when it comes to volunteering, we are going to focus on the main categories which have many opportunities to serve.
If you like teaching, you’ll have no trouble finding a voluntourism opportunity abroad. A really big one under this category is teaching English, especially in India. English, along with Hindi, is considered a national language of India, but many school children do not learn to speak it, especially students from rural areas. As such, they are put at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a job domestically or abroad. NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) are always in need of volunteers to help people learn English. If you’re not good with children, you may consider teaching to university students who may have a stronger grasp of the language.
In addition to English, there are other ways to teach and not necessarily in classrooms. Many African schools need sports coaches to help them assist with teams and after school activities.
You don’t need to be a scientist to know that humans have had a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment. Fortunately, there are hundreds of ways to help make a difference in correcting the negative effects of climate change. You can choose a specific geographic region and whether you’d like to focus on flora or fauna.
You could spend some time working at a big cat sanctuary and get to nurse endangered animals back to health. Maybe you’d like to replenish mahogany trees in the Amazon rainforest or help locals plant medicinal herbs. Or maybe you’d like to teach farmers how to grow organic produce sustainably.
If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could do something to help the planet, this is definitely the voluntourism route for you.
Small Business Development
If you’re good with finance, you should consider this path. In many developing nations, locals will sell handmade goods and produce on the roadside to feed their families. Many of these people cannot get ahead financially and spend generations stuck in a cycle of poverty. Luckily there are NGOs that work with locals to help them get a leg up. This could be securing them a small business loan or showing them how to improve their business model. In either case, you’ll be helping locals have more control over their future.
It’s no secret that women are often at a disadvantage in developing nations from cultural, geographical, or financial reasons. If you choose this route for your voluntourism trip, you’ll learn the day-to-day struggles and teach women basic skills to overcome them. Some of the skills you take for granted could make or break a young girl’s future. Here are just a few things you can impart to change someone’s future:
- English language skills
- Reading and writing
- Email/internet usage
- Job application techniques
Whatever type of voluntourism you choose, your tiny contribution makes a world of difference in someone’s life.
Are you motivated to volunteer? Call Jaya! We’ll place you in the perfect opportunity for you to make a difference!