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Last year my Facebook feed filled up with wonderful photos of Nepal.  My friend Sonya took the trip of a lifetime and as usual, I was envious and my FOMO led me to ask her a lot of questions.  How could she afford to go on this fabulous trip to such a faraway place? While I knew people who had gone on church missions, I had never heard of volunteer tourism. I needed to find out more!

Volunteer Tourism
Nepal – Photo by Sonya Meheux

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Most programs ask for a minimum commitment of two weeks, lasting as long as twelve weeks.  While rare, a few weeklong opportunities are also available.

Volunteer Tourism balcony view in Nepal
Photo by Sonya Meheux

The Organizations

Sonya volunteered through abroaderview.org.  There are many similar organizations that allow one to travel and volunteer at the same time.  Disclaimer, I don’t have any experience with these organizations, so I suggest you research them before you settle on one.  Almost all of the organizations ask you to apply online and list any skills that might be relevant to the opportunity. Some charge an application fee, which you need to know is generally non-refundable. You are also responsible for your own flight to the location. And while many of your meals may be provided by the host family, you should be prepared to pay for meals at times and any sightseeing you choose to do.

Some of these organizations are:

Volunteer Tourism Himalayas mountains covered in snow in Nepal
The Himalayas – Photo by Sonya Meheux

The Countries

Where have you dreamed of going?  Africa? Asia? Central America? Europe? South America? Most of the different programs had several countries in common. Here is the list of countries in which A Broader View places volunteers. Which one have you been dreaming of seeing and helping its people?

Central America

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua

South America

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru

Asia

  • Cambodia
  • China
  • India
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Vietnam

Africa

  • Cameroon
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
Volunteer Tourism bowl with chicken, noodles, and topped with fried egg
Nepalese meal prepared by hosts. Photo by Sonya Meheux.

The Opportunities – Or What Skills Do I Have?

How else can you save turtles at the same time as you enjoy a beach stay in Bali? Or help a group of orphans at an orphanage while in beautiful Belize? Pick the program that complements your skills with your interests and desire to see a certain location. If you have medical or scientific training, volunteer in a country that needs help in a hospital or dental clinic. Do you work as a teacher or can teach English? Volunteer for a program that teaches new skills to those in need. And don’t worry if you don’t think you have special skills to offer – the companies will help you find a place or narrow down your choices!

Volunteer Tourism
Laundry on the rooftop. This is how the locals do it! Photo by Sonya Meheux.

Tips For The Best Experience

Tips from Sonya if you agree to try this way to both see the world and help:

  • Pack light
  • Be gracious with your host
  • Fulfill your contract as a volunteer
  • Bring a good attitude

Some of the locations available are either favorites or places I would like to see:  Belize, Bali, Argentina.  I’m researching the possibilities as I look into potential upcoming trips. This would be a great way to see a new region of the world while doing good!

Volunteer Tourism children from Nepal smiling
Look at these happy faces! Children of Nepal with volunteers. Photo by Sonya Meheux.

Have you volunteered while traveling?  What was your favorite part?  What tips would you add?

Happy travels!

Annick, The Common Traveler

Volunteer Tourism How To Travel And Do A Good Deed - Volunteer Tourism