55 Things to do #18: Try VolunTourism

Victory 55 Things - Try VolunTouring ImageGiving back to the community is a hallmark of the Verrado community and one of the founding principles for the Victory District. Verrado community residents believe deeply in doing their part to make a difference — volunteering their time and efforts both inside and outside of the community. One great example is the Verrado Assembly’s Giving Tree program, which partners with over 15 community organizations to offer meaningful service opportunities.

For future Victory residents, we know the desire to give back and gain meaningful experiences will stretch far beyond the walls of the community. So, for those looking to combine philanthropy with adventure, we’d like to introduce you to “VolunTourism,” a relatively new concept that, as the name suggests, combines Volunteerism with Tourism.

A popular take on VolunTourism are alternative Spring Breaks for college students or a gap year for high school graduates. But VolunTourism is not limited to students trips; it has become a growing niche in the travel industry for people of all ages looking to explore unique cultures while contributing to societies in need. VolunTourism often holds a special appeal for baby boomers, who are at a transition point in their lives, by offering new perspectives and experiences that could provide clarity on ways to give back.

There are a wide variety of VolunTourism opportunities available today that can be evaluated based on basic program criteria, like geographic location or duration, or more complex decisions, like type of service or program affiliation.

We have highlighted a few VolunTourism programs that cover an array of locations, durations, services types and costs. Take a look to see the ways you can give back while experiencing geographic beauty, learning new cultures and connecting with people in need.

VolunTourism Programs

Ritz Carlton LogoRitz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
Giving Back with the Battery Conservancy

Country: United States
Duration: Variable
Perfect for: Staying in the US

Earthwatch Institute LogoEarthWatch Institute
On the Trail of Giant Pandas in China

Country: China
Duration: 7 days
Perfect for: Scientific observation and panda care

Fuller Center LogoThe Fuller Center for Housing
Global Builders – Nicaragua

Country: Nicaragua
Duration: 1 – 2 weeks
Perfect for: Building homes alongside locals

Global Vision International LogoGlobal Vision International
Teaching English to Communities in Phang Nga, Thailand

Country: Thailand
Duration: 2 – 12 weeks
Perfect for: Teaching English with TEFL certification

Elevate Destinations LogoElevate Destinations
Maasai Mara Service Safari

Country: Kenya
Duration: 1 week
Perfect for: Customized volunteering + safari experience

Note: There have been some interesting debates on the impact and cost vs. benefit of VolunTourism. We encourage you to read some of articles to learn more about VolunTourism and help make an informed decision on your VolunTouring pursuits.

CNN Travel: Does ‘Voluntourism’ Do More Harm Than Good?
Condé Nast Traveller: Does Voluntourism Do More Harm Than Good?
The Guardian: In Defence of ‘Voluntourists’

55 Things to do #17: Honor Memorial Day

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