August 23, 2016
Wisconsin State Journal
By LISA M. DIETLIN For Lee Enterprises
Are you always in search of that one-of-a-kind special vacation? Are you constantly trying to find time to do good?
There’s a tremendous opportunity to have a very special vacation, meet amazing people, visit places you’ve never been all while making a difference by taking part in voluntouring or in a do-good vacation.
Voluntouring is a chance to participate in programs around the world that make a difference within a short time frame – anywhere from one week to about three months, while vacationing!
Because you're donating your time and effort to a nonprofit organization, a significant portion of your vacation costs may even be tax deductible.
Here's how voluntouring works:
You will be working side by side with a community and its residents.
Voluntouring vacations are available around the world in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia.
The projects cover many important areas, such as children, the environment, health care, education, historic restoration, animal conservation, senior care, construction and others.
Voluntour participants often speak about building tremendous new friendships that last for many years.
While some trips are for adults only, there are many that are appropriate for families and young people.
Voluntourism has become both a big and global business primarily supported by the increasing desire of travelers to take worthwhile and meaningful trips while trying to do some good.
Examples of voluntouring vacations
Through Projects Abroad, a two week program offers voluntourists the opportunity to work in archaeological ruins of ancient pre-Inca structures in Peru. Anyone 16 years or older can participate. The work would include preliminary investigations, excavations, analysis and registration of cultural materials, site visits, office registry work, working at museums, archaeology presentations, classification of ceramics and community activities including working at an elementary school. The group also organizes social events for volunteers.
Another example of a trip takes place with Greenforce (www.greenforce.org); for approximately $3,900 you can work to save the endangered orangutans in one of the oldest and most beautiful rain forests in Borneo.
Other types of trips include voluntourists working on restoring temples by spending half the day cleaning paintings or building walls with the monks. The rest of the afternoon they spend their time sightseeing.
Or a penguin rescue and rehabilitation program in South Africa with accommodations and a meal allowance during six weeks of catching, feeding and cleaning up after penguins and other seabirds. But you also have two days off per week to sightsee.
The possibilities and opportunities are truly endless.
Alternatively, you might also want to consider a do-good vacation, which includes travel to more common holiday destinations in places like Ireland, Italy and Spain. These vacations are different from voluntouring in that you will be working with a nonprofit to raise money for a cause and not be working in a local community.
Often travelers create their own trip by raising money or awareness on behalf of a cause or organization that is near and dear to their hearts. Work with your favorite nonprofit organization to create a plan of action that includes doing good on your next vacation.
Tips for voluntouring
- Find an organization that matches your passion and has a proven track record.
- Select a trip that suits your abilities and interests and be prepared to work!
- Speak with people who have been on the excursion before or worked with the company you choose.
- Learn about local customs – even a bit of the language – before you go, but be prepared for a trip that may be tremendously different from what you might expect.
- Expect none of the comforts of home, in other words, you will be "roughing it."