(image source: a volunteer’s experience in Cusco, Peru through Travelocity and Global Aware)

When I was in Costa Rica, I was shocked by how many volunteers I saw everywhere. Then in New Orleans, I completely wished I was there longer so that I could do some volunteer work (Unfortunately, we were only there 1.5 days… more reason to visit again!). Next time, I’m definitely going to sign up for some voluntourism!

In case you don’t know what “voluntourism” is, it is essentially is a vacation where people do volunteer work. It’s a great way to immerse yourself into the culture and also do something other than sip champagne by the pool. This field is so hot right now that the UC San Diego has launched the Global Center for Volunteer Service.

(image source: volunteer experience in Ghana through Travelocity and Living Faith Prep School)

Here’s a couple of great organizations (both non- and for- profit):

1. Wwoof.org: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, is an international organization that has projects in North America, Central America, South America, Europe/Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific. Volunteers work on an organic farm and, in return, their host provides housing and food. Most importantly, volunteers get to learn about organic farming and sustainability. There is a small membership fee of approximately $20.

2. Habitat for Humanity: A great organization that gives volunteers an opportunity to build homes for people who need it! If you are in New Orleans, contact the New Orleans Chapter and give back, even 3 years after Hurricanne Katrina and Rita.

3. VolunTourism.org: A well-organized website that recommends a number of voluntourism organizations, plan a trip, and offer a number of resources.

4. Global Volunteers: This non-profit organization creates opportunites for people to volunteer overseas or within the US. Volunteers can choose to work with children, teach English, construction, community work, work with elderly children, etc. This site actually is a lot more detailed and informative than other sites.

5. International Volunteer Programs Association: According to the website: “[IVPA] is an alliance of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges.” The organization is very detailed and provides support even at the host site. Further, they provide some pointers on how to fundraise for your trip.

6. Travelocity: This mega travel travel site has a Travel For Good department that promotes volunteering while on vacation. Further, they even offer grants up to $5,000, Change Ambassadors Grant, for those who need a little help paying for their volunteer vacation.

7. Global Aware: Offers mini-volunteer stays in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Jamaica, Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and China. For one week, it’s perfect for those who have limited PTO.

(image source: volunteer story in Cambodia via Travelocity and Global Aware)

Read more articles:

CNN: They Got Experience, Money– Now They Want a Challenge

New York Times: For Those Who Aid Others, ‘Tourist’ Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

MSNBC: Voluntourism Tips for the Do Gooder

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