Sometimes, standard vacations just don’t cut it. Voluntouring is one of my favorite ways to travel and when well planned, it can be an extremely enriching experience. How easy is it to go on a volunteer trip? It’s extremely easy as well as rewarding when you follow these three simple steps.
There’s no denying voluntouring has become quite the trend. But before agreeing to save all of the orphans of the world ask yourself: why am I doing this? To get free room and board? To impress your friends back home? If you secretly nodded to these, you may want to rethink your priorities. It’s crucial to have genuine interest in the local culture or new skills you’re about to learn. This will make the experience a lot more rewarding. Then it’s time to consider what to do. There are hundreds if not thousands of volunteering options ranging from teaching English for a few months to lending a hand in an organic farm for a few weeks.
There are two ways to go voluntouring. If you’re not the most experienced traveler, voluntouring through an organization may be the most viable option. Numerous companies offer placements with non-governmental organizations, also known as NGOs. Companies will do this for a fee that generally includes lodging, language classes, meals and a donation made to the community. While some companies have a good reputation with their community work, it’s crucial to make sure their work is ethical. Do some research to be sure the work is genuine and socially responsible.
The other option is to eliminate the middleman and approach organizations on your own. This can bring on a few headaches as many NGOs are somewhat disorganized, but the approach is direct and honest. Do keep in mind that these associations may get lots of inquiries about voluntouring. Send a friendly e-mail stating how and when you can help them. Don’t be afraid to be specific and think outside the box! Can you produce promotional videos? Can you teach the staff how to use computers? The opportunities are endless.
One thing is certain, nothing will go according to plan. Computers will crash, hours will be longer than anticipated and who knows what else. When it comes to voluntouring mishaps are the norm.
Though it’s impossible to guarantee a smooth ride for the complete duration of your stay, there are ways to minimize disasters. First, don’t be afraid to get out your comfort zone! At the same time, if you have a bad feeling about something, communicate it with your supervisor immediately. It may simply be a simple miscommunication, typical when working abroad.
Have you ever gone voluntouring before? Share your favorite tip in the comments section below!
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Matt and Caro blog about every form of budget travel with humour, introspection, and oh-so-fabulous photography! From Albania to Bulgaria, they seek obscure, off-the-radar destinations. Their travels have seen them stuck on the Palestinian border, teaching in the Thai jungle, and building mud huts in Turkey. They opted to avoid the Louvre and Petra to write instead about quirky local destinations. Follow them on their own blog, Passport And A Toothbrush or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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