Traveling is not just selfies in Sydney and tanlines from Tahiti. Exploring an unfamiliar destination can also open your eyes to a world you never thought existed and introduce you to people who will change the way you see the world.
For many, these trips, like through the barrios of Colombia or the bustling streets of Mumbai, spark a desire to not just walk past people in need, but to stop and help them. Which is exactly how the concept of voluntourism, volunteer + tourism, began.
Here are some life-changing reasons you and your family should take off on one of these give-back getaways.
You'll Experience Life Like a Local
Skip the typical tourist activities to pursue more rewarding interactions with locals, like teaching English in the schools of the Dominican Republic. Unlike a prepackaged vacation, voluntouring gives you and your fam the chance to understand the local perspective. Your days aren’t just spent helping the locals; they’re spent living like one – with home-cooked meals in village homes and free time to play soccer with the kids.
You'll Learn a New Skill
Don’t know a smoothing plane from a block plane? (Hint: they’re both woodworking tools.) Plan a trip with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit geared towards building houses in underprivileged communities, and you'll come home with a newfound knack for carpentry. Voluntouring often provides opportunities that allow you to challenge yourself and master a new skill.
You’ll Visit Unique Parts of the World
Many voluntourism organizations take you to some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes, many of which are unchartered locales your friends have never heard of. For example, when volunteering in the stunning Mai Chau Valley in Northern Vietnam, you may hike through rice terraces and lush tropical forests while building clean water basins for families. With settings like that, you can take your Instagram game to another level.
You'll Aid Underserved Communities
The point of volunteering is not to make yourself feel like a superhero, but it does feel good when you change the world. Make a difference in the places that desperately need help with community restoration, education and sustainability. While voluntouring, you and your crew can empower communities and teach important skills. Some organizations not only visit areas to educate local children—they also donate equipment to nearby schools in order to inspire those children to attend and continue their education.
You'll Leave Inspired
A true vacation is filled with unique experiences that change you for the better. No matter how you decide to make a difference, whether it's eco-research in the villages of Fiji or photography education in Tanzania, you'll return home from one of these journeys feeling enriched and inspired. You may even have a strong desire to go on another volunteer vacation or get involved with charitable organizations in your own hometown. It’s a vacation that can change your life, because that’s what the best vacations do.