Eager volunteer tourists are ready to take on a challenge.

What is Volunteer Travel?

As human beings, one of our most endearing universal traits is our desire to help others. Whether it is going out of our way to make sure that someone is able to have a meal for dinner or simply giving a friend advice, we constantly find ways to put others before ourselves. This civil empathy is starting to have a surprising effect on our travel trends. Fewer travelers are setting their sights on beautiful beaches and iconic landmarks. Instead, they are building schools and hospitals and teaching children how to read. This recent phenomenon is known as volunteer travel.

The Booming Travel Trend of "Voluntourism"

Volunteer tourism (or “voluntourism,” as it is commonly referred) is becoming more popular with young travelers. In this trend, participants leave the comforts of their home countries to work for an organization whose aim is to create a better future for all people. They cross foreign borders to help those who are less fortunate, working with construction crews to build infrastructure or help teach foreign languages in local schools. By combining travel and service, people are able to experience a different culture while helping to build a brighter future.

Why Pay to Volunteer?

Each year, more than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion, which brings to mind the question: why are young people gravitating toward this trend? Many take on this adventure to help out other people. They get a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that their efforts are contributing to the betterment of the global society. Also, volunteer travel provides the undeniably beneficial experience of seeing the world through the eyes of someone else. Many people take what they learn overseas and bring their talents home, boosting the collective future of their own nation.

Destination Decisions

So, where do volunteer tourists go? Well, that depends on the program you choose. With over 10,000 options around the world, it can be a little overwhelming to know where your abilities and passions best fit. The official voluntourism site suggests and offers a personality assessment which is designed to place volunteer tourists in a location that suits them. This quiz explores different aspects of your interests and past experiences, such as history of foreign language education, and what you would like to accomplish while away from home. As the website points out, people are placed all over the world, sometimes even within their own nation. Once you have determined what you are looking for in a trip, it is easier to go about finding the right one for you.

Last Updated: December 03, 2015