Your vacations are already meaningful to you. What if your travels could help others? Your adventures change you. What if they could help others? Your travels teach your unexpected lessons you carry with you forever. What if you could learn more?
What if you could start your day sipping fresh Ecuadorian coffee and spend your afternoon volunteering at a nearby local community? How does visiting a Kenyan Giraffe Sanctuary & Elephant orphanage right before volunteering at a local community sound?
The travel trend of voluntourism does just this. The combination of “volunteerism” and “tourism” helps both the traveler and those they serve while on vacation. The service-based trips range in length and activities.
Voluntourism has become a popular trend for several reasons. Traveling is enriching to the traveler. Now, your travel can enrich to the residents of the destination country. These service-centered vacations have the power to change travelers. These adventures can teach you lessons, make you kinder, open your eyes and increasing gratitude. Besides seeing all the sites and taking beautiful photos, voluntourism vacations can help explore travelers beyond the comparatively privileged bubbles and help them make a difference.
Life-Changing Travel Add-Ons
A great plus to voluntourism is that you do not have to devote your entire trip to volunteering. Adding on a voluntourism excursion is an option for a lot of destinations.
One tour operator, ME to WE, offers four to 11-day voluntourism trips to Ecuador, India and Kenya. These trips give tourists a real taste of the country they are visiting by taking them to the sights as well as offering a volunteer activity. ME to WE is not the only voluntourism that offers these experiences. Their trips are a prime example of how these adventures can be fun, enjoyable, educational and helpful. Other voluntourism tour operators include Catalina Volunteer Vacations, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve and U.S. Farm Stay Association.
Voluntourism trips showcase the best tourism spots of the country while allowing tourists to see and experience a country’s way-of-life and true highlights. The shorter voluntourism add-ons complete your vacation and turn it into a vacation with meaning.
Situated within the fabled Amazon Rainforest, a voluntourism trip to Ecuador balances natural beauty with the glorious spirit of the locals.
Visitors can explore the magical Amazon Rainforest, enjoy fresh local coffee and fruits, walk through the rainforest and even enjoy some morning birdwatching. On top of the sightseeing activities, tourists start a volunteer project, spend an afternoon with a local farmer and tour a cacao farm and learn how chocolate is made.
While voluntouring in India, travelers can learn skills they can take home such as Bollywood
dancings and making samosas while also learning lifelong lessons from local—all while staying at a glamorous cottage and tented camp near the pink-hued Aravalli Mountains.
Tourist activities include sunrise morning yoga sessions, traditional crafts and block-printing. The service-based activities include talking with local farmers, working on a community project and connecting with local women and man’s circles to hear personal stories and take part in meaningful discussions.
A voluntourism adventure in Kenya is an excellent add-on to a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience. In the sweeping savanna with bountiful, beautiful wildlife, Kenya’s
offers visitors an idyllic location for bushwalks to explore local flora and fauna.
While visiting the African country, voluntourism travelers get a personal look into how locals live. Tourists can spend mornings with local women and visit an all-girls school in the Maasai Mara. Visitors can also sit with a women’s beading circle and learn how they earn an income.
If you do take a voluntourism trip, here are a few tips:
- Choose a reputable, responsible tour operator for your adventure.
- Make sure you prepare adequately, including getting any vaccinations or paying any visa fees.
- Before you go, research and ask questions. If you have never seen extreme poverty, make sure you mentally and physically prepare yourself.
- When you return, make sure you rest enough and take time to process. On these trips, you can experience life-changing emotions and value shifts. Make sure you give yourself time to process.
- Look for tour operators that encourage relationships. Don’t just pop in and out of a community.
- Speaking of, stay in touch with the friends you meet during your trip!
For more ideas of voluntourism destinations, check out this article that showcases destinations around the world.