What Is Voluntourism?
Put simply, you become a voluntourist when you decide to volunteer while on vacation. Instead of just touring a new place, you put your skills and experience to use in service to the people and country you’ve come to explore. This experience gives you a deeper and more realistic perspective about the culture and affords the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the people you meet – giving your travels a far deeper and more meaningful purpose
Many Experiences, Many Opportunities
There are many types of volunteer vacations. Some programs allow you to spend several weeks (or even months) working alongside local people creating powerful change in their communities. Others last only for a few days and are designed to be just one small part of a more comprehensive travel program. All voluntourism programs are designed to integrate voluntary service into your travel experience in a meaningful way. If you have an interest in volunteering and learning about another culture, you can be
of service. Become a VIN volunteer today.
Why Volunteer Abroad?
Aside from the fact that there are a lot of underprivileged people who need your help, volunteering abroad also comes with a whole host of benefits for you. First and foremost, people who volunteer live longer, healthier lives than people who don’t (United Planet), and who doesn’t want that? You can also expect to build new skill sets, which look great on your resume, expand your cultural awareness and make new friends from all over the world while you live and work together on incredibly worthwhile projects. You find yourself with an opportunity to give back some goodness to the world while sharing your skills and experience.
You also get to say goodbye to being a ‘typical tourist.’ Volunteering abroad is a form of sustainable tourism – you lessen the impact of your travels with your assistance, and get to feel great about making a real and tangible difference in the lives of the people you meet before you leave. Last but not least, many people find that volunteering gives them a new sense of purpose and direction in their lives. Whether you’re looking for something to create new passion and inspiration in your life, or are simply seeking a more meaningful adventure, volunteering abroad is a simple and effective way to make it happen!
Why Pay to Volunteer Abroad?
Many of us, when we first consider volunteering, think that is should be enough that we give our time. Why should we pay for the privilege of volunteering?
The truth is that you will generally pay your own expenses, such as airfare, meals and lodging, when you volunteer abroad. The benefit of participating in a paid volunteer abroad program is that you will also receive orientation, language and technical training, a safe and supportive place to live, a safety net through staff that provides logistical support and even counseling, clear expectations for the work you will do, and affordability. It ends up being cheaper and far less confusing to travel through a foreign country when you can count on an organization to handle most of the details for you, rather than trying to do it on your own.
You will often be staying with a local family, living under conditions that are common to the people in that country. You will generally be working in some human service capacity or with a humanitarian aid project. Having language skills, cultural orientation and a supportive staff to call on means that you can do your best work, with a minimum amount of confusion, as soon as you arrive at your destination. Often, the costs you pay are packaged into one flat fee, making it even easier to participate. An additional advantage of these volunteer placements is that you can usually take a tax deduction for most of the expenses you incur.
The simplicity of participating in these types of programs has made paid volunteering very popular among retirees, baby boomers and mature travelers of all kinds. It is easy to see why. They may have disposable income, they often wish to contribute in some way, and they certainly have the travel bug. (Not to mention a specialized skill set and a life time of experience to draw on!) It is for these reasons that many international volunteer organizations are actively recruiting older people. If you’re a traveler looking for a safe and supportive, package-deal program that allows you to sample the local culture while performing meaningful work, paid volunteer opportunities are definitely for you!
"I would recommend any traveler to Nepal to dedicate some time to volunteering with VIN, as it is a truly worthwhile and valuable way to help make a difference, and really see and understand in greater depth the development problems faced in this beautiful country.
- Lucy Pinches, UK, VIN Volunteer