If you have a global perspective and want to see a new part of the world, perhaps a volunteer vacation is right for you. On a volunteer vacation you apply through a volunteer travel organization to meet an indigenous people group and serve them in some way. The underlying philosophy of such a trip is that peace, justice and understanding grow when varying cultures are exposed to one another. There are many volunteer travel organizations planning exciting travel and service opportunities for those interested in adventure and giving. Seniors currently make up 30% of those who embark on the volunteer vacation experience.
What is a Volunteer Vacation?
Volunteer vacations are planned by an organization with an in-country team already serving an indigenous community somewhere around the world. They are the experts and can guide you to offer your skills and talents while also learning about the culture at hand. Typically a volunteer vacation lasts about three weeks. The cost is similar to a travel experience you would plan for your own pleasure, but is richer and fuller because of the hands-on experiences. All your travel, food and lodging expenses are included in the rates. While in country you will take part in some type of service, take field trips, enjoy presentations and seminars and learn about life in a different culture. A typical day involves time to work, time to learn and free time to explore on your own.
Who Can Go?
Men, women and children of all ages enjoy volunteer vacations. It is becoming popular for inter-generational family groups to take such trips together. Students are welcome and seniors are getting in on the fun too. It’s important to research the country and the people group you wish to serve, taking into account the climate, the health considerations and your energy level. You need to be a person with a desire to give to others, be willing to take direction from a team leader and also to enjoy cultural diversity. As in all travel, patience and a sense of humor are excellent qualities to own.
Why Pay to Work?
Most people who seek out a volunteer vacation experience have a deep appreciation for the global community. They seek to extend a hand of friendship to a part of the world never seen before. They are compassionate people who have a simple skill or just their friendship to share with others less fortunate. The cost of a volunteer vacation is similar to a leisure trip. Those who have had the experience have nothing but positive things to report about their working vacations.
What Do I Have to Offer?
If you enjoy people, you’ll be able to offer great service to others on a volunteer vacation. You may spend time with babies or toddlers, just caring for them and loving them. You may share a story or a game with a group of children. You may help to serve a meal to a group of elderly or to a group of school children. Your presence will be a delight to them and they’ll love the chance to learn bits and pieces of your native language. You’ll enjoy the give and take of cross-cultural experiences. In all likelihood, even if you spend your time repairing buildings or painting, you’ll receive more than you give.
If You’re Serious
If a volunteer vacation sounds like just the thing for you, take some time to research each organization and the part of the world you wish to visit. There are opportunities in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, North, South, and Central America and in Europe too. Study the programs offered in the part of the world that appeals to you. Be realistic about your health and energy because there will be a right “fit” for you. The three organizations listed below are a good place to start your search. Find the travel adventure that fits your schedule and your pocketbook, then prepare to have the experience of your life!