Volunteer tourism, also called “voluntourism” is a rapidly growing travel niche, fuelled by tourists of all ages searching for more sense and personal experiences in their holidays. In the past, volunteer tourism used to require a significant investment of time. Volunteers had to commit to several weeks or months of supporting a project. Nowadays, there are a multitude of options available that allow for mixing smaller doses of volunteering into a travel program.
More and more people are turning to volunteering abroad in order to give back to our planet and help those in need. The increasing global demand for volunteering is met by a growing number of volunteer service organisations. Most of them are non-profit oriented, but the amount of commercial providers is rising rapidly.
African, Asian and Latin American countries are the most popular destinations for volunteer work. Specific projects can range from teaching underprivileged children in Tanzania to nursing the elderly in Vietnam , building a bridge in rural India , rehabilitating monkeys in Bolivia , working with gorillas in Rwanda or taking care of elephants in Sri Lanka. Travellers can spend from a few days to several years in these endeavours.
Besides such classic projects, there are more and more tour operators that offer volunteering combined with adventure holidays, addressing the niche of young, conscious global travellers. No matter what type of volunteering you are interested in, you should research the organisation of your choice very thoroughly. Check out how long they have been operating, how they measure results and if they understand the local language. Volunteering resource websites and internet forums provide valuable and updated advice in this heterogeneous global market.
Volunteer travel is a great way of experiencing different cultures and creating long-lasting friendships with people from around the world. Make sure to choose a professional volunteer organisation so you can truly make a difference somewhere on this planet where it's most needed.