Posted by: gardner310 | September 22, 2008

Volunteer Vacations

Visiting the family of one of the boys from the home

 visiting a soup kitchen
visiting a soup kitchen


I was talking to a friend today about doing a volunteer vacation and how much it can mean to both the traveler and the local community.   I thought others might be interested.  There is yet another new word in the travel vernacular, voluntourism.  This is to describe vacation time taken to go and do volunteer work somewhere in the world out there.  The perfect candidate is what I call the “peace corps wannabe”, of which I am one.  I always wanted to do the Peace Corps thing but never took the opportunity when I was young.  Two years sounded like a lifetime when I got out of college so I opted for the work world instead.  What was I thinking?!


There are several companies who are concentrating on this type of travel – travel that feeds the soul- as one company voices.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I took one of these programs to Peru with Global Volunteers last November and worked with children.  You cannot help but learn the culture and meet the people when you work in programs like this.  It is a great opportunity for families, couples and singles to work in a group environment doing things like manual labor, teaching children, or environmental work. recommends prospects should identify the purpose of the trip and assess their personal skill sets to determine what services they can be provided and where in the world they fit in.  It also suggests answering a series of 10 questions addressing topics of budget, accommodations, tolerance for severe climates, and addressing sensitivity to world issues, including poverty and starvation.

I can only tell you from personal experience that the trip will change your way of looking at yourself and the world.  Try it, you’ll like it.



  1. Thanks for your recommendation! Our Peru service program is one of the most popular service opportunity, and offers a genuine opportunity to make a difference in the life of children living in poverty. One very important distinction of Global Volunteers is that we work in close development partnerships with our host organizations, so our service programs go far beyond what has been termed “voluntourism.” We don’t view international service work as having anything to do with tourism…however, you can be certain you’ll experience your host community in a much more meaningful way and truly contribute to the local people’s ongoing development. As I write this, my team is teaching English in Beja, Portugal. We currently work in 20 other countries worldwide. We welcome you on future programs!

  2. I heartily agree with you. I’m off this week for my fifth Global Volunteers stint in nine years–this time to Portugal. The other trip have been to Xi’an, China; Ostuni, Italy; Crete; and Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico–and I’m 82 years old. It’s a great way to learn the culture when you’re inside the community, working with the children or young people. And the members of the team are always great people to travel with.

  3. Miriam,

    Good for you. I am impressed and it is people like you who will be able to spread the word on how the program works. If I can help you or any of your friends with travel arrangements, let me know. I work with Global Volunteers and other organizations of this type. Enjoy Portugal.

  4. Gardner310, I was in Peru in October 07 and the work being supported by GV was wonderful. The opportunity to “play” with the toddlers and work with the Siblings program was unforgettable. That was my 6th or 7th trip with GV and I am off to Vietnam next week. The organization is very close to my heart and I appreciate encountering another supporter. Wage peace.


  5. I volunteered to work in Nicaragua building houses for families living in metal shack in 2004. The experience was memorable in many ways, but most of all connecting with strangers. I tried to explain it to friends and family ,to allay their fears of the unknown, but I don’t think they understood how transforming volunteering like this can be. I hope to do this again some day… and take a friend with me!

  6. I volunteered to work in Aruba.

  7. Great Blog, can you talk about A Broader View Volunteers Corp?, here is the link

    thank you for your time and blog

  8. Hey, Anyone vacationing in the UK? Well we are a airport and taxi specialist company. Give us a call, we won’t break the bank., or +44 (0) 2084221515; you know the options in the Uk are just endless; give us a thought!

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