Voluntourism is the act of traveling to another country and volunteering your services for the greater good of the community. It isn’t a new concept, because the Peace Corps have been providing similar services for quite some time. However, widespread voluntourism is gaining speed and becoming more popular with the eco friendly. So what are your options when volunteering abroad?
First you should find a company or group to travel with. Traveling in groups to a 3rd world country is the safest way to volunteer in another country. Going alone is fine if you are experienced or know the local languages, but a group is your best bet. There are plenty of non-profit groups out there to help you decide where you should volunteer.
After coming to a decision you usually need to apply. The application process is free and will detail your skill and abilities. If you have no skills you will not be of any use to the people that desperately need your help!
When all of that is done you need to begin your shots and physicals. Some countries have high rates of easily passed diseases and you should get vaccinated before traveling. In fact, certain shots are required before leaving the country. Make sure you get this done, along with an accurate passport.
Be sure to pack lightly when you are preparing to travel. Not only do you want to avoid thefts, but you really want to blend in. While traveling to places with high crime rates and poverty, flaunting your expensive belongings isn’t the best idea. Do bring clothing and necessities for any type of weather though, just in case. It also doesn’t hurt to have extra luggage space for handmade crafts you may want to purchase from locals!
Never come off as rude to people you are supposed to be helping. Customs vary around the world, so take a short course on what to expect and how to treat the local villagers of the place you are going to be volunteering at.
Volunteer Tourism Must Haves:
• Water purifiers are the most important thing to have on hand. Water may not be safe everywhere! • A cell phone that will work in emergencies. • Easy to eat, non perishable foods that can be prepared without water. • A Swiss knife. • A first aid kid. • Warm clothes in case it gets cold, and loose clothes if you are in a hot arid environment. • Comfortable shoes. • Extra identity information. Be sure to have back ups. • A laptop to use at a nearby internet café. Even poor cities have these. • It doesn’t hurt to carry a translation book with you.
Voluntourism is a rewarding experience if you know what to do. Travel with plenty of safety back ups and be aware that there are dangers when it comes to traveling to third world nations.