Voluntourism is the practice of volunteering while traveling or living abroad. Despite the recent deluge of headlines about voluntourism, the concept of combining voluntary service with travel has actually been around for more than 60 years. International Voluntary Services, a non-profit organization that sent American volunteers to provide aid in developing countries, was founded in the 1950s and is most often cited as the start of voluntourism. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s the travel industry began to explore this niche that combines philanthropy and leisure.
In recent years, the practice expanded to become its own thriving industry as short-term volunteer vacations have grown in popularity. The wide variety of volunteer opportunities available means it is now easier than ever for travelers to incorporate volunteering into their next trip abroad.
From working the land on an Italian farm to teaching English in a Thai city, the opportunities available to volunteer travelers are nearly limitless. The experience is extremely customizable as travelers can opt to plan the entire trip themselves or work with a placement company. Here are the most popular types of voluntourism models:
Traditional: The United States Peace Corps is an example of the more traditional model of voluntourism, and the model with which most people are familiar. The government-sponsored organization sends volunteers to work on social and economic projects in developing countries. These opportunities typically require a long-term commitment, a college degree and include a lengthy application process.
Placement Company: Middlemen companies connect international volunteers with local NGOs. And they take a fee in exchange for facilitating the connection. It’s a great option for specific volunteer experiences, and available to travelers who want either short- or long-term placements.
Volunteer exchanges: Websites like Workaway and HelpX provide online listings of hosts who invite volunteer helpers to stay and work with them in exchange for room and board. From farming in Hawaii to working in a hostel in Albania, these sites offer a wide range of opportunities in almost every country around the world. Travelers pay a small fee to access the listings and host contact information. These are the best option for volunteer travelers with only limited time to spare as hosts tend to be flexible in terms of scheduling.
Farm exchanges: Similar to Workaway and HelpX, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) link travelers interested in volunteering on organic farms with farmers looking for help. In return for the help around the farm, hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about farming and organic lifestyles.
Voluntourism is a new way for travelers to get off the beaten path and really connect with the local community and experience the culture. It allows tourists to see a place they would not otherwise visit and, perhaps most importantly, give a little back to the people in the area that they are visiting.
As spring comes around in full force, people opt for a lighter coat that can protect them from the wind and rain of the season. In the beginning, there are still cold days to get through, but, as the weather shifts, it becomes more unpredictable with bouts of rain and sunshine. This unpredictable weather can make it hard to know how to dress properly, but it’s always a safe bet to own a couple light and versatile jackets to get through the season. Lightweight coats don’t need to be expensive to be effective. Many buyers will opt to buy less expensive coats because they don’t get used often. However, any coat purchased for spring weather will also be useful in the fall.
For most of us, time in the car is “me time.” You can listen to that podcast you’re captivated by, blast that pop song and sing along at the top of your lungs or listen to the next chapter in that biography e-book you’re almost finished. A road trip only amplifies those opportunities. So, next time you’re traveling by road, take the wheel and take control. Opt for a rental car on your next vacation, rather than a rideshare, taxi or public transportation, and enjoy the open road on your own terms.
While your first inclination might be panic when you map out the various appointments and meetings on your upcoming business trip, relax. Trust us, a rental car has you covered.
Contrary to popular belief, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish meal. This was what the Irish in America ate because it was all they could afford at the time. From this, it evolved into the staple meal of Irish holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. While it is still a great meal to eat and is relevant, for those looking to have an authentic Irish feast, there are some more traditional dishes.