Vacation means palm trees, tropical weather, and filling recycle bottles with compostable trash to build a children’s school? That doesn’t sound like the classic vaca by the beach we’re used to, but for an increasing amount of people, volunteering has become a way to see the world while gaining perspective. Often referred to as “voluntourism”, the word refers to the tourist who combines their vacation and sightseeing with volunteer work for a nonprofit or local cause. Voluntourism is for those who want to revamp the common vacation format to include giving back, and gaining perspective on their own circumstances.
The Voluntourist, a travel trade newsletter, published a study stating the four most popular motivators for those who wish to volunteer on vacation. They listed cultural immersion, giving back and making a difference, seeking camaraderie, and seeking educational opportunities for children, when it involved a family volunteer trip with their children. Surely all of these opportunities are not available are at a beachside resort vacation. People go voluntouring because they are looking for something more than that, whether it be new friendships, new realizations about their life, or just the feeling of being part of something greater.
If you already planned on taking a vacation, voluntourism is a great way to get a unique experience and make use of your traveling. Think of voluntourism trips as a way to explore a culture while conveniently helping a cause. The convenience of these pre-set voluntour trips is they combine the chance to volunteer with opportunities to meet others. One can meet people of the local culture more easily, and working with others on volunteer sites has often lead to lasting friendships.
An excerpt from The Huffington Post