Voluntourism: Vacation While Giving Back

Hard work usually isn’t in the description of your ideal vacation. But what if we told you it should be?

Voluntourism, travel that includes a volunteer aspect, is becoming more and more popular since it combines the wonderful relaxation of a vacation with the undeniable satisfaction with supporting a worthy cause. In other words, it’s the ultimate combination for a truly unforgettable vacation.

Check out these opportunities to get you started—whether you want a beach getaway or a mountainous adventure, voluntourism can accommodate.

Animal Experience International
Started in 2012, AEI pairs trip goers with various animal institutions around the world. Participants get to experience volunteering in animal sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation centers, research projects and more. All levels of experience are welcome—whether you’re a skilled animal caretaker or someone who’s never managed to keep a goldfish alive. Past destinations have included Canada, Guatemala, Australia, Cuba, India, Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica, and Nepal.

i-to-i
For the past 18 years i-to-i has been sending volunteers all over the globe (to 24 different destinations ranging from Africa to Asia) to teach others English. Do your research and know your qualifications when planning trips through i-to-i—on certain trips you don’t have to know the local language (however on many it is helpful).

i-to-i allows travelers to plan trips ranging in 1 week to 12 weeks to a full gap year if you’re a student. Check it out if you’re looking for a unique volunteer opportunity and are over the age of 18.

WAVES for Development
Do the outdoors suit your fancy? How would you feel about volunteering with local Peruvian families? Good? Then this voluntourism opportunity is for you. In the mornings you’ll learn to surf or speak Spanish and in the afternoons you return the favor by teaching local families English. Stationed in Lobitos, Peru this beautiful destination will truly change your life.

Biosphere Expeditions
If conservation is your interest, look no further. Spend a vacation in remote but fascinating parts of the world while working for this wildlife conservation nonprofit.

One or two week expeditions may be booked, and you can even pick your destination based on which species you’d like to help. Want to swim with the big fishies? Sharks, dolphins, turtles and coral reefs can be volunteered for in Malaysia. Or help the snow leopards in Altai. Or perhaps you’d like to work for the leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia. Whatever your fascination, pick a region or species you’re interested in and get to working with this awesome hands-on conservation organization.

There are certainly many more voluntourism opportunities. And perhaps the best place to begin looking is within your local nonprofits. Do some research and see if they have any volunteer trips planned. No matter where you go, remember that this trip is about having a good time while making a difference. And we promise, you’ll make an impact wherever you go.

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