Sometimes pursuing your passion for travel can feel compromised. Travel can begin to become slightly trite or superficial, especially when the disparity between our wealth and comfortable lives back home is brought firmly into focus by the poverty we witness.
At other times there is just a nagging feeling that traveling is somehow too easy and we wish for a way to liven it up with new challenges. If you’ve ever felt like this, voluntourism may be the shot of adrenaline your next trip abroad needs.
Voluntourism combines exciting travel opportunities with rewarding volunteering roles. It helps you to get firmly off the beaten tourist trail, to immerse yourself in local cultures and to travel with a real purpose.
While you help to give something back to the places you visit, and to the communities you stay with, your own travel experience is enriched by learning new skills and developing a deeper understanding of the people you meet and places you visit.
Voluntourism could be seen as the latest offshoot of sustainable tourism. But while sustainable tourism simply seeks to minimise its impact and ‘leave no footprints’, the goal of voluntourism is to actively make a positive impact on the places you visit. The voluntourist gets involved rather than just passing through.
Opportunities for voluntourism
Organizations like Projects Abroad offer opportunities for voluntourism all over the world. You can find more information on their website about the range of projects they offer, across more than 28 countries. Projects can be as short as two weeks, or as long as a year, and offer you the chance learn new skills while helping on many diverse projects. Here are some voluntourism projects that could really help revive your passion for travelling:
Diving in Thailand
Learn to dive, and then carry out work with a marine conservation team based on a remote fishing village on an island off the coast of Thailand.
Live with endangered giraffes in Kenya
Conservation volunteer opportunities in Africa don’t come much better than one of the latest offered in Kenya, which supports the work of a team who are helping protect the highly endangered Rothschild giraffes through monitoring and recording their activities. You’ll be offered the unique chance to live and work with these beautiful animals.
Experience the nomadic life in Mongolia
Forget that ‘authentic’ two-day camel safari in the Rajasthani desert and think about helping Mongolian nomads preserve their centuries-old lifestyle while you live with them and help maintain their livestock. This represents travel, quite literally, on the edge.
Digging for evidence in the shadows of Machu Picchu
Instead of just idly gazing at the wondrous sight of Machu Picchu, you could be helping archaeological teams unearth new discoveries from recently found sites lying in its shadows.
Refresh your travels
The opportunities for voluntourism to refresh your travels are seemingly endless. You can bring smiles to the faces of those you teach in India, China or Fiji. Or protect the legal rights of women in South Africa. You can live and eat with local families and work with local communities. You can leave the world a better place and, at the same time, reignite your passion for visiting some truly awesome places.