Top 5 Volunteer Travel Programs

Travel

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Combining fun, relaxation, exploration and doing good into memorable travel experiences.

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We travel to relax. We travel to explore. We travel to experience other cultures. We travel to escape our lives even if just for a brief moment in time. Now, imagine doing all of that while changing the lives of others for the better at the same time; making a difference. Contributing to the culture and community you are visiting instead of just taking from it. It may seem like a novel concept, but more and more socially minded travelers are using their time off in search of more than just a beach or a posh resort. Immersive experiences that connect you with the place, the people and best of all, do good.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

It’s a proven fact: the happiest people in the world are the ones who feel they have ‘purpose’

Most people would love the opportunity to experience such a trip but don’t know how to go about it. So, in the interest of humanity and travelers everywhere, we have scoured the globe and found the five best “voluntourism” experiences. There are a variety of companies that offer volunteer travel programs, but we have honed the list to two of the leaders in the field:

  1. Global Vision International — a leader in voluntourism travel offering immersive experiences in more than a dozen countries ranging from two weeks to six months in the fields of conservation, education and empowerment to name a few.
  2. Earthwatch Institute — a non-profit whose trips are mostly centered on wildlife protection, ocean health, climate change and archaeology.

Both share the goal of positively impacting a local community while creating an incredible travel experience.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Volunteerism travel is a great way to meet like-minded people

These trips of a lifetime include tracking wild animals in Africa to study migration patterns, working with under privileged children in third world countries, empowering communities of young women to achieve more, teaching English to students, studying and protecting marine life while receiving dive verification and so on. (Check out GVI’s Instagram to get an idea of what the trips look like.) Moreover, all of these opportunities are appropriate for travelers of all ages ranging from high school students to retirees. Plus, these trips are great fodder for your new voluntourism blog.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Tip: no matter the destination, you can always find an animal shelter to volunteer at

And now, read on for our Top 5 “Voluntourism” Experiences:

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 11 Comments

  1. Courtney Watson

    I love the idea! It is really essential to carefully research the voluntourism organization you are considering. To genuinely and properly benefit the global population, I believe experience, sustainability, financial and social responsibility should be looked at.

  2. Hannah Meyers

    Omg. I cannot never forget my year at the Maldives. I got tanned like crazy and saved a lot of turtles. I am a sucker for turtles, and in all sea creatures. 😀

  3. I’m traveling All The Time… soooo if I’ll be in a place for more than 2 days, I always look up the local animal shelters and go play with the animals. Sounds like nothing, but so many of the animals are super attention starved, and a little love goes a long way to making them happier and more socialized/adoptable.

  4. Voluntourism, Love the word… Love the concept even more.
    Work and Vacation together.. How exciting!! I’ve always been a wildlife lover. I had no idea about such tourism before i read this article. Thank you for such a great piece of information. I would go insane with joy if I could volunteer to protect Tigers and Elephants in India. Im so gonna find out all about it and apply as soon as I can.

  5. Voluntourism is a great experience if you would like to travel and help make a difference in people’s lives globally. I really like the voluntourism trip in Fiji, because you help the local community harvest produce and source clean water. I definitely would like to go once I’m done with graduate school!

  6. I’ve always wanted to do a voluntourism trip. These look like great ideas! If you really want to make a big difference in the world, also try eating less meat. Check this out: http://www.cowspiracy.com (amazing film – fun and interesting to watch).

  7. Voluntourism is a nicely coined term, no doubt about that. And working in Fiji sounds like working in Paradise. But what kind of help can a person without suitable qualifications offer to any of these endeavors? To teach a language, protect wildlife (even if it’s just caterpillars) and participate in construction work one must have appropriate training and knowledge, don’t you think? Volunteering should leave some noticeable impact and it can be done without spending money overpriced travel trips.

  8. What a cool idea! Never thought of doing a vacation like this, but now I’m totally intrigued. I can always spend time on the beach wasting away, but this sounds like a lot more interesting. Very useful, thanks!!

  9. I’ve read a lot of travel stories/volunteering. All of them talked about how enlightening it was and how it changed them as a person. It’s like seeing the world in a whole new light. I would like to try as well. Thanks for the links!

  10. Francis Woods

    The one with tigers and elephants looks like it’d be an incredible experience. I did a trip where I taught English at a school in Ecuador when I was in college, and it was a fantastic experience. I’d love to do another voluntourism trip. Thanks for the suggestions!

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