Volunteer Vacations Make a Difference

Exploring a new locale can pique your curiosity and broaden your perspective. Now, you can take your adventure a step further by planning a volunteer activity during your vacation. When you do so, you’re giving back to the community you’re visiting, as well as opening your mind by getting an insider’s view of a local organization and their mission.

Volunteering on Vacation

Last year, I interviewed and wrote about a mother who traveled abroad to Bolivia with her daughter on a “voluntourism” adventure so they could go beyond taking local tours and making stops at national monuments. Instead, they spent time at a wildlife sanctuary, helping prepare fresh fruit for the animals, cleaning the enclosures, and feeding the birds. Their extra helping hands ensured the animals were well cared for, even though the business operates on a small budget.

The two learned new animal care techniques, but the benefits of their experience went far beyond the perimeter of the wildlife sanctuary. They worked as a team and learned that helping others has a ripple effect: They’re now inspiring their friends and family to consider taking action, too. And for the 9-year-old daughter, volunteering on vacation taught her about giving back and taking on responsibilities without any strings attached. For mom and daughter, the experience was filled with teachable moments and memories that will last a lifetime.

How to Get Involved

After writing that article, I started to explore opportunities in the United States. Surprisingly, there are an incredible amount of farms, animal rescues, nonprofit organizations, and small communities that have volunteer opportunities mapped out for individuals and families who are able to donate a few hours as they travel. This voluntourism trend, also known as philanthropic travel, is gaining momentum with good reason — everyone wins.

Interested in volunteering on vacation? You can learn more from organizations such as Projects Abroad, VolunTourism, and Volunteer Forever.

Have you ever used your vacation time to lend a helping hand? Share your story with us on Twitter.

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