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Volunteer Vacations: Something for Everyone

voluntourismNot too long ago on BootsnAll we published an article called “The Evolution of a Traveller.” It was a fun look at the different stages travelers go through in life – of course not everyone fits into the categories outlined by the author, but there’s enough truth to the groups she talked about for most of us to think, “Hey, that’s spot on.”

One travel trend that’s increasingly popular seems to me to be ideally-suited to one of those stages many travelers go through – that trend is the volunteer vacation. Sure, there are people for whom the idea of voluntourism is so much a part of their identity that they’ll always incorporate an element of giving back to the community when they travel, wherever they go. But for many, doing volunteer work isn’t the way to spend every vacation.

Luckily for the latter group (and I count myself among them), the growing popularity of volunteer vacations means that there’s even more variety in the kinds of voluntourism trips you can choose from. You can do a volunteer trip in just about any country around the world, and the array of actual tasks you can sign up for is diverse enough that everyone should be able to find something they’re passionate about or at least interested in.

Traditional volunteer opportunities are out there – building houses and roads, teaching English – but that is by no means the end of the list anymore. You can volunteer at an animal shelter abroad, work with a conservation group to protect local flora or fauna, and assist with community development or women’s empowerment. There are even ways for business-savvy travelers to help out entrepeneurs in developing countries – the possibilities are almost limitless.

If this sounds interesting but you’ve still got questions, you’re not alone. Voluntourism is something that not everyone fully understands, and that some people have misconceptions about. We published a great article a few days ago on getting started with voluntourism that will help you ask the right questions of any volunteer vacation program you’re looking at, and also help you find voluntourism options.

And because we’re always looking for the budget travel option at BootsnAll, it’s worth noting that although many volunteer vacations require the traveler to pay for the experience it doesn’t have to be an expensive trip. There are cheap volunteer programs that are well-suited to the big-hearted traveler who has loads of time to give but not loads of cash, and we also have a deal on volunteer trips going right now on programs all over the world.

photo by thomaswanhoff