What Is Voluntourism?

There are many different ways to travel. As any experienced traveler will tell you, no trip is ever the same. Each trip across the country or abroad is a unique experience you can look back on fondly.

Much of the same can be said about volunteering. Evidently, both are rewarding activities that provide opportunities to explore, meet new people, and experience some profound personal growth.

Imagine you could do both things at the same time. In other words, you can travel and have your own adventure, all while helping other people and doing some good in the world. This is the idea behind voluntourism, a travel trend that gives travelers the opportunity to see the world and participate in voluntary activities along the way. Voluntourism is an innovative form of modern tourism, though with the combined element of providing voluntary assistance to those in need.

The-Birth-of-VoluntourismChatchai Somwat / Shutterstock

The Birth of Voluntourism

Some people claim voluntourism began with the inception of the Peace Corps in the 1960s. The purpose of this organization has always been to provide assistance to those in need around the world, especially in developing countries. Volunteers serve the country they travel to by providing aid to those who live there. They’re given the opportunity to live and work in these areas and are encouraged to interact with the local population and integrate themselves into the local culture.

Voluntourism-TodaySura Nualpradid / Shutterstock

Voluntourism Today

Voluntourism has come a long way since its humble beginnings with the Peace Corps. In the present day, there are many different organizations offering different programs and opportunities overseas. Tourists are now given a chance to discover new places and assimilate themselves into the local way of life.

Without a doubt, this is an excellent way to experience and learn about different foreign cultures. Travelers are able to genuinely observe the most remarkable customs and traditions that form the backbone of the country. What’s more, oftentimes voluntourists find themselves creating meaningful connections with the people and making some new friends in unexpected places.

What's-Voluntourism-LikeCylonphoto / Shutterstock

What’s Voluntourism Like?

Travelers offer their services to help improve the influences between society and culture, enhance economic well-being, and/or play a role in the conservation of the environment. The work itself varies widely, from low skill activities such as the cleanup of wildlife areas to professional medical assistance in foreign hospitals.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to voluntourism. You may be staying at a luxury hotel location or basic local housing while doing the same volunteering activities. The work commitments are quite flexible to your needs and preferences and may vary from a few days to several weeks.