Women-on-the-RoadWomen on the Road’s Voluntourism page points out some of the potential pitfalls of volunteering (you may be making people less self-sufficient, or exacerbating disharmony in a community, or taking jobs away from locals).

It also provides ten questions to help you sort through the many voluntourism options so you can choose one that’s a good fit for you—and a real help for the people you’re working with.

ecoteerLots of different opportunities here: Ecoteer Responsible Travel started in 2010 through the growing need for more support for the projects based in Asia associated with Ecoteer.com and the creation of the Turtle and community project on the Perhentian Islands. Some of the grass root projects on Ecoteer.com were unable either to financially support themselves or lacked the man power and sought Ecoteer’s help to continue or improve their work. Ecoteer Responsible Travel was then formed to help concentrate resources to develop meaningful volunteer and ecotourism experiences which could help solve the specific issues for each project.

TheJourneyToursI recently met Hank Vicencio, of The Journey Tours, and want to help spread the word about what they’re doing—donating travel booking commissions to independent charitable organizations.

The Journey Tours was developed to provide an avenue for individuals to book their business and personal travel at discount rates and help others at the same time. You will find our rates highly competitive with all other on-line booking agents, airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies.”

“The Journey Tours has linked with Montrose Travel … one of America’s Top 50 Travel Management Companies, with over 150 employees, 700 independent contractors and $135 million in gross sales.”

What is a “Visionary” Travel Writer? What is a “visionary” writer in general? How about a writer who considers the spiritual, cultural, social, emotional, physical, psychological, racial, and political context in which they travel and write, not to mention live and breathe. Where ever you go there you are, right? We take ourselves everywhere. So a visionary writer is one who travels first into the miraculously complex depths of their own soul, and is willing to look at and express the whole kit and kaboodle, the “full catastrophe”—dark AND light, joy AND sorrow, beauty AND terror—with humility, insight, humor, and integrity.

Volunteer Before You Die book coverFrom the Volunteer Before You Die Traveler’s Network:
Nola Lee Kelsey, June 13, 2010
Subject: Free Long-Term (3-month) Accommodation for Animal Lover in Belize
Anything people can do to cross-post is much appreciated!

PAW (Protect Animal Welfare) Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society on Caye Caulker (pronounced Key Corker) in Belize Central America needs a long-term volunteer and a long-term veterinary volunteer. Stay three months helping the sanctuary and your beach-side accommodations plus a continental breakfast are provided for the duration of your stay. Check out the PAW website to see these great accommodations right on the ocean. Volunteers work around 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon with some flexibility in the schedule to explore the great dive sites of the region or work on your own projects, writing, reading…

The 2010 BookExpo America New Title Showcase takes place May 25-27 in New York City. Register your Lulu print-on-demand book by May 7th and Lulu will display it physically at their New Title Showcase booth and will also list it, along with your contact details, online and in the printed catalog given to BEA attendees. The cost is $399.

voluntarytravelerThe Voluntary Traveler “is a travel anthology penned by writers from all over the world. Focused on inspiring volunteer vacations and/or encouraging adventure-minded people to see volunteer work as a part of ones longer journey, the book will also include a volunteer guide section, listing charities needing volunteer assistance, plus organizations that coordinate service orientated travel.”

What a great idea! Join their Facebook page, buy the book, tell your friends.

From the New York Times:

By Michelle Higgins
Published: April 19, 2009

SURE, you’d like to take a vacation. But with layoffs hitting your best friends and your own company hinting at pay cuts, how can you justify it?

Consider the guilt-free vacation. To counter customers’ reluctance about jetting off for conspicuous consumption during a recession, travel companies are pushing trips that emphasize service, values and personal fulfillment. The message: If there is more involved than frivolous pleasure, you don’t have to feel bad about dropping all that cash on a splashy vacation

January 26, 2009 Press Release:

GO Philanthropic enters 2009 with a host of new travel programs aimed at providing support for the empowerment of communities worldwide and the protection of heritage and environment. The socially-conscious travel company embraces the combination of Travel Philanthropy, Geotourism and Sustainable Travel, coupling Vacations and In-depth Educational Tours with support for social and conservation projects worldwide.

January 15, 2009
12:00 am

From Global Volunteer Network (GVN): what if this year our New Year’s resolutions not only focused on bettering our personal self but also bettering the global community?

If you have ever had a desire to learn about working for the United Nations, or a desire to start an international charity, or have just wondered how to get into the field of International Development, then GVN’s ‘Be The Change Program’ in Jamaica is the perfect way to start 2009.

Whether you’re motivated by a desire to help, the opportunity to take an “active” or “authentic” vacation, or the bonding experience of participating as a family, you may be one of the growing number of families who opt for a volunteer vacation. Eileen Ogintz writes for SmarterTravel.com about Taking the Kids.

Considering participating in a volunteer vacation? Here are some first steps from About.com to help you decide whether volunteer travel is for you. Answers.com also provides an article with thought-provoking considerations, including business methods used by tour operators. And the Technorati site gives you a feel for voluntourism with its videos of volunteer vacations.

“Volunteers are needed to organize sports activities, games and competitions to get the children actively engaged in physical activities” in Bolivia. Teach “important life skills such as discipline, team work, confidence, leadership, tolerance, co-operation and respect through competitive sports” to children ages 5 – 18.

Transitions Abroad’s listings for Senior-Friendly volunteer vacations include opportunities in “HIV/AIDS prevention, English teaching, orphanage support, Buddhist immersion,”  conservation,  building schools and community centers, international health, and more.

Work with orphaned, neglected and abused children in Cape Town … provide long-term assistance in Tsunami-affected areas along the south coast of Sri Lanka … help rehabilitate native Argentine wild animals … stabilize the John Muir Wilderness Trail in the Sierra’s alpine meadows. Learn about these volunteer opportunities and sixty more at Gorp Travel’s volunteer vacation site.

Righteous Journeys

August 26, 2008 | 1 Comment

From Away.com’s link to Outside Online: “Twelve trips to change your life”and make a difference. PLUS: A resource guide for those in it for the long haul.” Includes volunteer opportunities in the Alaskan wilderness, the Galapagos, the southern Appalachians, Midway Atoll, California’s Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, a Masaai ranching community at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, Fiji, and more. Tasks range from digging ditches to teaching English to chasing elephants away from crops.

From Charity Guide: “As a volunteer photojournalist, it’s best to make arrangements with one or more charities before you leave on your vacation so you will have an idea of the types of photographs they may need, where their projects or events are taking place, and if the charity provides any type of accommodations or supplies.

  • One World Photography, which assists about two dozen international nonprofit organizations, offers opportunities for volunteer photojournalists to document social and environmental issues that are often ignored around the world. If you’re taking pictures in a foreign country, you might want to learn how to say “smile” in the native language!

Citizens Development Corps is devoted to economic development through the use of highly skilled Volunteer Advisors (VAs). As real-world practitioners and problem solvers, VAs are able to provide one-on-one management and technical assistance to businesses and their support networks. Consulting firms, educational institutions, NGOs, advocacy organizations, associations and local communities benefit from a low-cost yet highly effective form of foreign assistance.”

“Citizens Development Corps offers volunteer business consultant opportunities ranging from two to eight weeks in Africa, Central America, Central and Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Citizens Development Corps provides roundtrip coach airfare, expenses incurred en route to the assignment site, immunizations, visa procurement, emergency travel insurance, accommodations and a modest per-diem. Volunteers should have at least ten years business experience.”

This program is near and dear to my heart, as both my father (a retired banker) and my uncle (a retired engineer) have volunteered many times with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). The  organization promotes economic development, prosperity, and stability by providing technical and managerial assistance and consulting in trade and competitiveness, financial services, tourism development, information technology, and health and business training.

From the Charity Guide website: Consider spending time with autistic children at one of the following autism treatment centers and summer camps:

  • Traveler’s Worldwide offers volunteer vacations to help children with autism in South Africa. For one to three months, volunteers work in a school dedicated to treating autistic children ages three to eighteen. During the day, volunteers act as classroom assistants and give autistic students one-on-one tutoring. In the evenings, volunteers play with autistic children living at the school.
  • The Beijing Institute for Autistic Children sends volunteers to work alongside Chinese children with autism. For one to eight weeks, volunteers help autistic children develop skills and learn to interact with others.

Yes, you read that right. There are volunteer opportunities to help improve international dental health both for people with and without dental credentials. Call your favorite dentist and get going! From the Charity Guide website:

  • The American Dental Association is looking for volunteer dentists to work in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, and India. Opportunities range from 1 to 4 weeks, and some provide room and board.
  • Global Humanitarian Expeditions has ongoing dental projects in Nepal that involve both stationary and mobile dental clinics. You don’t need to be a dental professional to volunteer. Projects usually last 2 to 3 weeks.

Cross Cultural Solutions offers opportunities to work with

  • People affected by HIV/AIDS in Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand.
  • Abused women and children inĂ‚ Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, and Tanzania.
  • Neglected or abandoned elderly people in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand.
  • Teaching English in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand.

Here’s what some of their volunteers report:

You know the Sierra Club sponsors important conservation initiatives, but did you know they also offer volunteer vacation opportunities? “Service trips range from helping with research projects at whale calving grounds in Maui to assisting with archaeological site restoration in New Mexico. Usually, service trip participants team up with forest service rangers or park service personnel to restore wilderness areas, maintain trails, clean up trash and campsites, and remove non-native plants.” With more than 1.3 million members, the Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

The Global Service Corps offers opportunities for volunteers to provide HIV/AIDS education in Thailand and Tanzania: “GSC has teamed up with local community leaders and indigenous organizations to offer week long trainings in HIV/AIDS prevention to urban and rural community groups as well as secondary school students. The trainings include not only information on HIV transmission and prevention but also cover treatment of opportunistic diseases, life skills, stigma, and the importance of healthy living through good nutrition.

The Global Volunteer Network currently offers opportunities to help develop communities in Kenya. “Volunteers have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of work, including education and training for children from under-privileged backgrounds and HIV/AIDS counselling. Through this program, volunteers will have a chance to make a personal contribution and connection to the people of Kenya.”

keep looking »
  • Receive Travel Writers News updates via email

  • Upcoming Events

    March 2019
    M T W T F S S
  • Available in August, 2017

    I'm thrilled that it's getting rave reviews! Order your copy of Your Crocodile has Arrived from Book Passage, and I'll be happy to sign it.  
  • Winner of 4 Literary Awards in 2017

    Lost Kidnapped Eaten Alive!Order your copy of Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive from Book Passage, and I'll be happy to sign it.
  • Get Occasional Updates

    You can also sign up for my personal Laurie McAndish King mailing list for occasional updates about readings and events.