Voluntourism: How You Can Make a Difference While Also Taking Time For Yourself

Donald Liss- Voluntourism

 

Voluntourism- the combination of volunteering and tourism- has been growing as a trend for several years now. Voluntourists go on vacations not just to visit museums and go sightseeing, but also to help out on farms and in orphanages. They provide medical care to humans and animals. They help people learn how to read and write. They gather data for environmental scientists, build solar cookers for impoverished people in rural regions and more.

 

If you’ve ever wanted to make a positive difference in the world while going on an adventure, voluntourism is your best bet. First, find a cause you’re passionate about and look for charitable organizations that can assist you. You will likely find yourself in places such as medical clinics, schools, orphanages or animal sanctuaries. There are voluntourism opportunities in practically every country on Earth.

 

While volunteering in a place far from home is a great way to help others while learning about foreign cultures, you should think about the best way to do it. Some skeptics of voluntourism claims that voluntourists are often not as efficient or useful as they could be. Generally, people who stay somewhere for a few months do much greater good than people who visit for just a week or two. For this reason, voluntourism is popular with high schoolers who want to do something amazing and memorable over their summer vacations.

 

In order to do the most good, it’s important to go into voluntourism with the right mindset. The first part of voluntourism is the volunteering; the tourism comes second. First and foremost, you should aim to give your skills, talents and hard work to a deserving cause. There may be stress involved, or even burn-out if volunteering somewhere for a long period of time. There may be language barriers, culture shock and homesickness involved. Voluntourism is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for people just looking for a good time- that’s what regular tourism is for, after all.

 

With that in mind, voluntourism still can be incredibly satisfying. People are happy when they see the fruits of their labor pay off- whether that’s the immunity children gain after being vaccinated by volunteers, or the clean stables after tourists worked hard to muck them out, or the literal fruits that are harvested after voluntourists planted the seeds and watered the crops for many weeks. Voluntourism is definitely something more people should look into doing.