Voluntouring: How to Travel for a Good Cause and Do Something You’ve Never Expected

By Rebecca Brown

Posted 2 years agoOTHER


The road is life, said Jack Kerouac in his seminal novel “On the Road”. And I must agree with the man who himself was the very incarnation of wanderlust.

Do you get a kick out of movies such as The Motorcycle Diaries, Tracks, or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but still haven’t had the guts to go on the adventure of a lifetime? Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you uplifting but ultimately cheesy advice to quit your job, travel the world, and never look back, or eat, pray, love, and ditch the comfort of your safe job, cozy flat, and Netflix subscription.

Let’s keep it real and talk about the options that most of us, ordinary people, find plausible and manageable. Luckily, adventure and excitement can be part of the equation too. Traveling beyond the sun, sand, and sea concept is an actual possibility, which means that you can visit some exotic corners of the earth without breaking the bank.

But how, you ask.

Ever heard of voluntourism?

What is Voluntourism?

Instead of traveling for the sake of your own enjoyment, try to make a difference and give something back. While there’s nothing wrong with spending your vacation sunbathing and sipping cocktails on the beach, you should be aware of the negative environmental impacts of tourism – the depletion of natural resources, pollution and tons of waste, among many other things.

There are more than 1.2 billion tourist arrivals every year, and some popular destinations struggle to cope with all those noisy, nosy, and careless travelers. The thing is that some of the most amazing places on the planet are about to disappear due to global warming, and it’s our fault.

For example, one of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, is dying and half of this coral reef system has already been destroyed beyond repair by a recent heat wave. The Maldives, tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, will sink in a couple of decades, as the sea level rises.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg (FYI, these are already melting at a speed 3 times faster than a decade ago, and coastal cities including NYC, Miami, and Sydney are at a risk of being drowned.)

Personally, I can’t enjoy my vacation if people in the country I visit live in extreme poverty and squalor, no matter how beautiful the scenery is. That’s one of the reasons why I started researching the possibilities of responsible travel as a way to help make the world a better place to live in and visit.

Traveling for a good cause has benefits for you too – you’ll get to know the country you visit and the community first-hand, experience some things you wouldn’t if you traveled first-class and all-inclusive, change your perspective on things, and grow as a person. Did I mention adrenaline-packed adventures?

How to Pick a Charity

You can choose from a wide variety of activities: trekking, cycling, teaching, diving, building schools, and houses, helping at orphanages, you name it. It all depends on what your preferences are, but it’s worth mentioning that since travelling for a good cause has become extremely popular, there are countless companies which offer different volunteering trips. Don’t be alarmed if you only come across one- or two-week trips for no less than $5,000.

Select wisely with whom you cooperate with, to make sure that the avoid an ecological impact of your travel but also give your own life more meaning. Besides, some organizations donate a certain percentage of the money you pay for accommodation to charitable causes, so it’s practically a twofer.

Still, if you can’t afford all these expenses, you can raise funds for your trip either by convincing your friends and family to chip in or take advantage of crowdfunding platforms to get money from a number of strangers willing to support your cause.

To find out more about combining travelling and volunteering, check out the following sites:

  • it doesn’t have armed forces) with a comparatively decent standard of living for which it’s dubbed the “Switzerland of Central America”, it still needs some help. You can contribute by teaching impoverished kids English, assisting their teachers in the classroom, and offering extra support.The cherry on top of this great opportunity is that you’re going to be situated in the coastal region of Costa Rica, which means that you’ll have access to breathtaking beaches and coastal rainforests brimming with wildlife. The price is $1820 for 3 weeks, which isn’t exactly cheap, especially when we take airfares into consideration, but you can resort to some of the above-mentioned funding methods. As for requirements, you obviously must love kids and have a basic level of Spanish. (govoluntouring.com)

    Volunteer in Tanzania

    Since the prices of volunteering trips to Tanzania can be sky-high, it’s good to know that there is a decent place where you can stay for as little as $20 a day. Hostel Hoff in Moshi, a town situated at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, is run by an Australian woman and her Tanzanian husband and it offers safe and comfortable accommodation.

    What’s even better is that the place is basically an independent volunteering hub for this area. Depending on your qualifications and preferences, you can choose to volunteer at local hospitals, day care centers for kids, orphanages, juvenile correctional facilities, schools, and environmental conservation centers. In your free time, you can climb the world’s tallest freestanding mountain and cross it off your bucket list. (Hostel Hoff)

  • URBOND –  NGO founded in 2013,  has multiple goals, but its primary mission is to advance diversity within communities, simultaneously improving youth access to education. It is particularly concerned with the empowerment and education of women. You can check Mikey’s life-changing journey volunteering in West Africa by building an IT library and giving computer access for hundreds of African kids who had never even seen one.

    Volunteer on the Camino de Santiago

    The Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrims’ walking routes situated mainly in Spain. This option is a real deal – you get free accommodation in Santiago, a true gem in every sense of the word. The old town with its cobbled streets and historic buildings is light years away from the stress of modern life. You must be thinking that the nightlife of this place is nothing to write home about, but you’re dead wrong.

    Apart from being at the heart of all pilgrimage routes, the city has a vibrant nightlife thanks to the students attending the University of Santiago de Compostela. When it comes to volunteering, your job at the Pilgrim Office would be to welcome pilgrims from all parts of the world and offer them advice and support. In other words, you’ll be their Amigo. Cool, right? (csj.org.uk)

    Build Homes in Rio de Janeiro Favelas

    There are approximately 600 favelas or shanty towns in Rio. It’s hard to believe that almost 19% of the population of this dazzling city lives in the slums, with no proper housing, sanitary conditions, schools, roads, and other critical infrastructure. Your help will improve their living conditions, since they’re practically living in shacks.

    No particular construction skills are required as you’ll be instructed about everything on arrival. However, it’s important that you’re at least 18 years old and that you’re fit and driven to work hard. The price is around $60 a day for accommodation and food. Since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, you can opt to come in February or March, and be in Rio during the Carnival.

    However, it needs to be mentioned that Rio isn’t exactly the safest place on earth. Due to a recent economic crisis, crime rates are up again, so you’re in for some mom advice: be very careful about flaunting your iPhone or other perceived luxury goods while on the street, make sure to be back in your flat by 10 p.m., and don’t bring valuable stuff and too much money to the beach.  (lovevolunteers.com)

    Help Protect and Save Indigenous Animals in Australia

    More than 1,700 species of animals and plants indigenous to Australia are on the extinction list. If you’re a wildlife lover, then this is the perfect gig for you. Your work responsibilities would include taking long walks in the natural bushland, planting eucalyptus trees, helping rangers feed more than 180 different species of animals, some of which are injured and orphaned, cleaning the area, and doing all sorts of odd jobs on the premises.

    This sanctuary is situated in Calga, a town just an hour’s drive away from Sydney, and for $1,890 for two weeks you get accommodation and free meals plus a chance to interact with koalas, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, kangaroos, possums, alpacas, and other weird but cute creatures. You have to admit that it’s a real bargain! Afternoons and weekends are free so that you can explore the nearby area, Sydney, and the NSW Central Coast. The famous Blue Mountains are within your reach, so if you’re into mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning, or similar challenging sports activities, this is the right place for you. (goeco.org)

    A wise man once said that “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” OK, I can literally hear your boos now, but seriously, wouldn’t you be at least a tiny bit more proud of yourself if you actually did something to make someone’s life better, and had a lot of fun in the process?

Regardless of what kind of travel are you planning to make, if it’s voluntouring or just a regualar touristic journey, follow our tips to make sure your trip run smoothly and enjoyable.

10 Simple Ways to Travel Safe, Carefree and Joyfully

Traveling is simply a time to enjoy, reenergize your batteries, and experience new things first hand. For many travelers, it’s also a time to disconnect from the hustles and bustles of life and the stresses that come with it. Traveling has the ability to shape, transform, and enrich your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

While traveling, there are certain ways to enjoy deeper and have meaningful travel experience. Although everyone has a right to determine their unique travel experience that would make a difference in their life, we’ve got a few suggestions on how you can explore the world purposely and make the most out of your ventures. Below are simple and actionable ways to improve your travel experience.

Pack Only the Essential Items In Your Carry-On 

As recent stats indicate, at least one bag tends to get lost or delayed on every flight. For that reason, expert travelers recommend packing only those essential things you can’t live without. Also, try to pack only those items that aren’t easily or expensively replaced, such as a lightweight raincoat or running shoes. 

You see; packing the essential items allows you to set your carry-on more effectively so you can get through airport security faster. If you must pack a plastic bag with liquids, for example, it would be wise to pack it right outside close to the top of your backpack. By so doing, you’ll find it easier to pull it out for screening.  

Make Sure to Have an Extra Credit Card or Bank Card With You

Disasters are bound to happen as far as traveling is concerned. Who knows, you might get robbed or lose a card while traveling. The best way to avoid these mishaps is to have a backup, just in case something peculiar happens. 

Without an extra bank card or credit card, you’re likely to get stuck in a strange location without access to your funds. Having something extra to grant you access to your funds is a live-saver, especially when it comes to traveling. Otherwise, you might be forced to borrow money from your relatives when you get stranded, which isn’t a good picture. 

Pick the Right Way of Transport

Global warming is REAL. Your choices, including the way you travel matters. Fortunately, some travel methods are greener than others.

Of course, hiking or cycling around the world would be the best bo not everyone can do that. Oftentimes a scenic train or a bus are good opportunities to explore.

Check all the options available out there before jumping in a smelly plane which CO2 emissions are straightforward enough, and also generate a host of other “outputs”, including nitrous oxide.

In the last 30 years, we have lost 50% of the world’s coral. Raising the temperature of just 2 degrees causes enormous changes, exactly like it would cause it a body. Humans depend on the coral reef, as it’s a nursery for fish and source of food bu as well as components of cancer medications. We need to travel and live responsible NOW.

Choose Non-Populated Areas

Another awesome way to enjoy the utmost comfort while traveling is choosing a place that’s not too populated. A less populated area gives you a unique traveling experience as you’ll be able to feel like you rule your surroundings. 

Trekkers and hikers certainly understand whatever we’re trying to convey in this perspective. Whenever you’re out there trying to do your things on the mountain, the whole world seems like it’s standing docile at your feet, and virtually nothing is impossible. 

Know Your Hotel Info

Knowing your hotel information is critical when it comes to traveling. Remember you’re visiting a destination you’ve never gone before, and anything can happen in the process. First, you might miss your connection and get late checking in, and secondly, your luggage might get lost or delayed. 

It is important to have complete contact information about your hotel in order to cushion you against these likely happenings. Make sure to have a crystal-clear print out of the hotel’s name, phone number, and address. Also, it’s a prudent idea to have a map of the hotel’s neighborhood so that you can show it to a confused cab chauffer. 

Focus on Comfort in Your Hotel or Cabin 

One of the best ways to get the most out of your travel experience is to focus on your comfort and expand your boundaries. There are things that can break you out of your comfort on an international trip, such as having to deal with uncomfortable living rooms after booking a hotel, cottage or cabin. Whether you plan to stay for weeks or months, it would be wise to augment your room using the comfortable bean bag to support your back, especially when you’re watching TV or playing some consoles in your living room. A bundle beanbag provides a flexible and comfortable seating that meets modern living. It comes in a contemporary style, making it a perfect addition to any living room. 

Investing in high-quality mattresses, rugs and furniture is a prudent decision if you desire to have a more enjoyable trip and unforgettable experience. These are best home products with unparalleled standards for style, quality, and value. They comprise modern and durable pieces of furniture, including comfy sofas, beanbags and loveseats, which create an inviting space to unwind and enjoy. 

Learn a Few Phrases in the Indigenous Language of Your Destination 

Leaning a few basic phrases will make your stay easier than you would fathom. It’s going to make your interactions less of a hassle, and most of the locals will certainly be glad about it. 

It isn’t necessary to master everything regarding the native language of your destination, but you simply need to get accustomed to a few things like “Thank you!”, “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Where’s my room”, etc. This will come in handy in endearing yourself with the locals, and they’ll likely appreciate that you tried. 

Leave Laziness Aside 

The nice things out there won’t see themselves on their own 😉 The moment you get to your destination, try as much as possible to steer clear of any manifestation of laziness. After all, you’ve got a whole lot of time to rest at home after your travel period ends. For now, you’re in an entirely different place and you’ve got to make the most out of it. 

Get out there and play with the locals, and don’t feel tongue-tied if things seem a tad goofy along the way. Playing may seem immature, more so if your acquaintances are in the mood for childish games. Don’t worry though, because such childish games bring a positive attitude, relieve stress, and overall install the utmost relaxation. 

Explore & Observe

A new destination automatically induces new discoveries that make every moment count. Whether you are alone or with your group, make sure to take long walks. Observe every single detail that comes your way. 

Keep in mind that the smallest details can brighten up your trip and make a whole lot of difference. So, open your eyes to get a view of unusual things wherever you go. Also, try to ask yourself a few questions along the way to help you find meaning in the things you see. 

Take Pictures, Interact & Enjoy 

Traveling to a new destination without enjoying every moment of your trip can be of no value. Each time you travel, make sure to feel the landscape, take photos, and concentrate on savoring the technical details of every particular moment. Taking photos of the various landscapes you come across is great as far as traveling goes. 

Furthermore, don’t just take pictures of common things we come across every day. Be sure to distinguish between pictures of what is truly unique and those of ordinary things. Think along this line and take a really amazing photography that you’ll use as a memory of your traveling experience.

Additionally, keep interacting with your group and enjoying their presence in order for your traveling to be a truly fantastic one. Never be reluctant to meet new people in the course of your trip. After all, every person you will meet is highly likely to be the one who will turn your life’s views around. 

The Bottom Line

The most important thing when it comes to traveling is to have a comfortable and relaxed environment where you can explore the things that make you happy. There are different reasons why people travel, but the primary reason is to get the most enjoyment and relaxation. With the above tips, you can induce a positive frame of mind and make your travel experience a meaningful one. 

These are the ten ultimate tips and tricks for an unforgettable travel experience. They are worth considering if you really want to have a ton of fun. If you follow them properly, you will be one of the best travelers in no time. 


About the author Rebecca Brown

Rebecca is a translator by day, and a traveler mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.

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