Traditionally, we take vacations to relax and get away from all the stress and anxiety of work, business, or just respite from the busy days of taking care of your home. Recently however, there are more and more people taking “volunteer vacations”.
What are volunteer vacations?
These are vacations that you pay for but where you work. Did that sound confusing? Why work during a vacation?
Voluntourism, as this is known, is a way for you to help other people who are less fortunate. For example, you can travel to the tsunami stricken regions in Asia and work for a few weeks as an English teacher, or help to rebuild homes. There are no monetary gains in volunteer vacations for you; you are there to help others because you can.
If you are retired and have already set up your retirement savings, you might think you just want to stay home and enjoy your days in peace. However, you will realize after some time you’re bored out of your wits. After all, you have been working more than half your life, and your body and mind are not used to inactivity.
Put your travel money to good use and go on a volunteer vacation once in a while. Of course, enjoying trips to Europe or some exotic location is great, but if you are looking for more meaning in life, then you can spend your next holiday helping fix up orphanages in Vietnam.
You might ask how you are really helping when, in fact, you are spending thousands of dollars and your volunteer work is limited. You might think that it would be much better if you just donated money instead of spending it on airfare, lodgings, food, and travel allowance. The money could go a longer way in paying carpenters, teachers, or other skilled people, right?
Yes, you are absolutely right; the money you spend on your volunteer vacation can actually feed a whole family for about half a year in the poorest countries. But, would you donate again? Sometimes the answer to that is a half-meant maybe. Once you experience helping other personally though, you will have different views. You will most likely become a regular volunteer vacationer and an advocate for charities through voluntourism. At the least, you will continuously support these charities through regular monetary donations. Convinced?
Here are a few tips to get involved with reputable volunteer vacation organizers:
Just like planning or a regular vacation, you need to check how much the volunteer vacation costs, what type of accommodations you will have, and if you are getting everything that you paid for. After all, you are shouldering the expenses and you will be working too.
Ask how much the organization gets as a fee for coordinating everything, and how much is invested in the project that they are hosting. Additionally, make sure that the project has been going on for some time and has progressed, and will continue to do so in the future.
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