First steps towards planning a Volunteer Vacation
Voluntourism, or volunteer travel, is growing in popularity and altruism seems to be the driving force. But it is all that it promises? What are the benefits and how can any pitfalls be avoided?
Here are a few things you should consider if a volunteer holiday is something you want to investigate.
First, think about your costs. With most volunteer holidays you will have to pay for your travel, accommodations and food. However, the latter two should be substantially subsidized. If the travel costs don’t dissuade you then consider following these steps:
- Think about what interests you and which organization(s) support your cause of choice. There are so many diverse voluntourism options available—caring for animals, building schools, planting rice, etc., so identifying the work that you would find interesting is a first step. It is important that you really think about this and what you have to offer the organization in return.
- Research the organizations that host volunteer travel trips you’re interested in. Conduct due diligence and poll people who have worked for the organization and/or have done similar work to see what their experiences were.
Find out what the minimum volunteer requirements are, such as the time of commitment. Some organizations have a minimum of two weeks while others require an entire month. Also, t check into all required immunizations, paperwork you will need such as a visa or other paperwork, depending on the country you are going to visit.
- Get a feel for the country you want to travel to. Learn about the culture and begin a crash course on the local language.
- Once you’ve applied, begin working on your budget. Some volunteer travelers have set up crowd funding pages to help subsidize their travel and living abroad costs.
Volunteering holidays can be very rewarding but it is imperative that you set realistic goals for your experience and exercise due diligence before finalizing your commitment. There are a number of articles from past volunteer travelers and voluntourism organizations online so make the internet your first stop.
Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq. is a co-founder of World Footprints. A three-time TEDx presenter and international speaker, Tonya was appointed a Delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (63rd Session). An almost “recovering attorney”, Tonya has found her purpose as a cultural connector. She loves spreading positive messages about the power of travel and the strength of the common humanity we share. Tonya holds a Masters Degree from the London School of Economics and memberships in the National Speakers Association, Society of American Travel Journalists, Women in Film and Video, Society of Professional Journalists and the North American Travel Journalist Association where she serves as a Board Member. Tonya enjoys a life full of adventure, dark chocolate and champagne with her husband and business partner, Ian, and their beloved cat, Irwin.