This article looks at the rise of volunteering holidays and considers the wide range of options available, from working with animals, to carrying out ecological research projects and to building new community wells or teaching English as a foreign language. The world is your oyster!
Why volunteer travel?
In the past, it was traditional for young people to do a gap year of travel and see the world. But the trend is changing and more people are taking gap years or travel periods during different stages of
their life and they are doing so to fulfil different motivations;
often to help others and make a difference to the communities that they are travelling to. Volunteer travel offers a multitude of
benefits the chance to meet new people and make new friends, to
become absorbed and welcomed in a new culture and community, to develop new skills and fresh interests and to make a real difference to a local area, whilst bringing in valuable revenue to the local tourism economy.
What to do?
You can find volunteer
work opportunitiesacross a wide range of interest areas and subjects. There are plenty of placements with animal research, care,preservation and education centres and charities from measuring wild turtles in India, to surveying the breeding habits of rare monkeys in the Amazon rainforest. Volunteering placements with young people are
also very popular often supporting in schools or groups, helping with girls development or with disabled youngsters, or teaching a specific skill or language. Other projects benefit entire communities; such as well builds, sustainable home builds, medical treatments and education and more. There are a vast number of opportunities available, each designed to satisfy a different set of interests and each requiring different skills and experiences. Don't worry though, many simply need you to be enthusiastic, open minded and ready to get involved and learn!
Before selecting from the wide range of volunteer work opportunities available, it makes sense to work out the practical implications of such a trip. For example, will you be paid at all for your time, or will you need to fund your trip entirely? You may be able to negotiate a small stipend or subsidised accommodation for some holidays or volunteer placements, but this will depend on what's on offer and the nature of your trip. Volunteering holidays do tend to cover extras such as food and accommodation, along with transfers and even some sightseeing but you will pay for these, as with a normal holiday.
Think about the countries you might like to visit whether further afield, or nearer to home shores. You might even want to stay in the UK. If you are heading abroad, find out if any vaccinations are needed and read up on local customs and laws. Some Muslim countries for example, will require you to cover your head and possibly arms. Find out what the arrangements are for being met at the airport and whether you need a Visa or other arrangements.
In conclusion, open your mind and consider volunteering travel for the holiday of a difference!
Sophie Brown writes regularly on school
trips and volunteer work opportunities for a range of travel websites and blogs.