While many churches have participated in mission trips similar to volunteer vacations and the Peace Corps has existed since 1960, it’s only since disasters like September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and the Thailand Tsunami that voluntouring has heightened in popularity.
What Volunteer Vacations Entail
Instead of traditional holidays, more and more people are taking a volunteer vacation in the summer or another time. The Peace Corps refers to them as “mini-stints,” since you’re working jointly with a community for a common goal, but they typical only last from a few weeks to a few months. There are so many organizations hosting these types of opportunities that you must weigh the best way you can make a difference. Think about which organization best fits your personality, as well as select a trip that highlights your best abilities. Some of the most popular ones include Global Volunteer, offering volunteer vacations for more than 22,000 volunteers and Globe Aware with destinations in over 20 countries.
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering overseas offers several benefits, including:
- Making a difference – Think about it, your efforts have helped deaf children in orphanages in Peru, improved homes and schools for families in Guatemala, cared for endangered elephants in Thailand and helped Typhoon Haiyan victims and survivors in the Philippines. Remember that voluntouring is a new concept in volunteer organisations to make adventure-seeking volunteers get the most of their tour. It’s not just about sending help through donations and pledges or buying bulk boxes online for transporting the goods. You can make a difference when you do voluntouring.
- Working with the community – Even though you’re assigned to one project, you’ll often get to know so many more members of the community. For example, when you volunteer in Guatemala and help certain families, you could also assist in a women’s centre to build a garden on-site and incorporate those greens into more of their meals.
- Unparalleled experiences – While you may technically be “roughing” it on this volunteer vacation, residing in bungalow tents or very simple hotels, you’ll be staying in the heart of the area, which could mean right near the rain forest preserve. There’s nothing better than sleeping under the stars or seeing wildlife up close.
- Seeing a new Country – While you’re there to work, you still have some time to explore the area, sometimes trying a local restaurant with some community members. In addition, when you can volunteer in Peru, you could explore the charming town of Cuzco, attend some of the local festivals, and even attend some cooking demonstrations to learn how to prepare Peruvian cuisine.
- It’s Affordable – Generally a short-term volunteer vacation only costs around $1000 and covers everything, including your accommodation, on-site meals, transportation in the country, and any project materials and coordinator fees. While the airfare is additional, often the vacation is tax deductible.
You’ll want to pack efficiently for these volunteer vacations so you can focus on your project. As you work on rebuilding homes and schools, as well as teaching in the classroom, use discount moving packs to store their belongings until they can safely display them again. The longer you’re there the more you’ll learn which customs and belongings truly matter to the locals.