What is a vacation with purpose?

Photo by Emily Wilkerson

Why should you vacation with purpose? Do I need to travel to Central America?

While many who choose to take volunteer vacations will note that helping the local community is reason enough, there are other benefits to choosing travel volunteer projects. Often, selecting a volunteer vacation will allow you to travel to remote destinations that feature incredible natural beauty. Though, you do not need to travel to one specific place like Central America or South America.

Photo by Emily Wilkerson

How do I know I’m making an impact?

Ensuring your trip adheres to conscious travel is a monumental factor when deciding which company to choose. It’s important to travel with the local community in mind. This means taking a trip that has an overall positive impact.

Photo by Emily Wilkerson

How do I choose volunteer vacations?

A critical step is choosing the volunteer travel trip that aligns with your goals, timeframe, and passions. Simply selecting a random voluntourism trip is not the solution to choosing a volunteer vacation. Careful vacation planning is all part of the process. The below steps will aid in helping you create an ideal vacation with purpose.

  • Determine the budget beforehand. While you are volunteering during the trip, you’ll still be in charge of paying for flights and other travel expenses. Unfortunately, these trips are not non gratis, so it’s best to be aware of a budget before proceeding with the next step. Keeping budget in mind means you can travel and help the community without stressing how much money is leaving your account for the trip.
  • Research is key. While it may be a newer concept for some, volunteer vacations have been available for quite some time. That means there are hundreds, if not thousands, of available opportunities to choose from all from different companies.
    It’s essential to select a company that aligns with your goals and intended purpose. You may find a few that you’re interested in, which you can use to narrow down to a final decision based on budget, location, and volunteer work.
  • Select work based on a passion or experience. Each volunteer vacation will provide a detailed brief on expected duties for the trip. To ensure you gain the most from your volunteer tourism, select companies, and trips that allow you to pursue tasks you have experience with. Alternatively, you can also select trips that enable you to grow the desired skills.
    The main goal of selecting a trip based on experience or gaining new desired skills is to create an enjoyable environment for yourself. Having a positive experience means you’ll bring a positive experience to those around you. Plus, having fun on a volunteer trip means you’ll likely want to continue volunteering abroad and helping communities worldwide.
  • Check the activity level before committing. Some volunteer vacations are much more hands-on than others, leaving less downtime. Make sure to read the details concerning the company’s expectations. If you enjoy being more active and fulfilling a lengthy task list, sign up for a company that expects more hours of volunteer work daily.
    Otherwise, plenty of opportunities are available for volunteer vacations which offer more volunteer work-life balance.
  • Match your free time with your voluntouring. Most volunteer vacations are set for specific time frames throughout the year. For example, this trip to Cinque Terre occurs from October 4–12. Double-check your timeframe with the trip dates before continuing to book the trip. Due to logistics, many trips do not allow volunteers to arrive late or leave early. The trip of choice must revolve around your free time.
  • Be clear on the expectations. Volunteer trips will list out the itinerary for each day, from daily tasks to down-time and fun tours that may be thrown into the schedule. Understanding that these itineraries are not flexible like a regular vacation is vital. You’ll be expected to attend each presented activity. This step is the final check to ensure the trip aligns with your needs and that your trip expectations are correct.
  • Travel safely. While you’re likely already doing this for international trips, here’s a gentle reminder to research your destination beforehand. Researching the destination includes finding any immunizations you may need. It’s also good to check the U.S. State Department’s website for current travel advisories and alerts. By being aware of any alerts in process, you can ensure that your trip will be as safe as possible. This note is especially necessary for solo travelers.
Photo by Emily Wilkerson

How can I have a meaningful vacation?

Besides taking a vacation with purpose, there are other ways to make your vacation meaningful. By engaging with locals and learning about their culture personally, you can make your vacation more meaningful and ensure you are respecting their culture. Below are a few additional tips that can help create a more meaningful vacation, even if you’re planning a regular getaway.

  1. Eat locally. Skip the chain restaurants and fast food and enjoy food from local mom-and-pop restaurants. You’re supporting the local economy and helping smaller businesses in the process.
  2. Purchase souvenirs from local artisans. Avoid the touristy gift shops and choose local markets. These items are often more special than a typical t-shirt, and they’ll allow you to support the community.
  3. Avoid tours from large businesses. If your goal is to learn more about the local culture, you’ll gain more insight from a tour with a local who has grown up in the area than from a large tour company.
Photo by Emily Wilkerson

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Dara Laine Murray

Dara Laine Murray

Convener, lover of bringing folx together, passionate about womxn succeeding in business, and focused on equity & continuous improvement.