Voluntourism: Help Our Planet on Your Next Vacation

Voluntourism has become very popular over the past years and we, Protravel International and our expert travel agents, support many efforts that help our beautiful blue planet. Voluntourism is a great way to enjoy a vacation at a beautiful destination while giving back to the environment — it is the perfect compromise. However, due to the rise in voluntourism’s popularity, travelers have to be aware that while many companies and organizations claim to offer volunteer programs that help the local communities, wildlife, and economy, it is crucial to consult with an expert, such as our seasoned travel agents, to ensure you are partaking in a legitimate and community-focused program.

When you join a community-focused volunteer program, you get to do more than simply combining volunteering and sightseeing as you get to discover a new country, learn about the culture first-hand, and immerse yourself deeply in its culture — you will be part of a group that plays a vital role in the local community.

Many developing countries’ economies depend on tourism. After all, tourist dollars pour into sightseeing, tours, and local shops/businesses. What’s more, voluntourism organizations employ local staff, which provides jobs for their community and bolsters their financial growth. Overall, you are using your skills to make a lasting difference to and help implement long-term development. You could help teachers improve their English or teach a language yourself. You could help taking care of animals in sanctuaries or clean up the ocean and beaches by collecting trash.

What can you do and where should you go?

Here is what some of our eco-travel experts think of voluntourism and what they recommend to travelers who want to make a difference:

“I love voluntourism! I think that more and more people are looking for lasting experiences and memories on their trips and this is a perfect way to do that. There are a number of tour operators who work with local communities to volunteer, and I’ve even reached out to the hotels before I travel to see what I can do while in the destination to give back.” – Ashley Les (Protravel, New York, NY)

“Unless you want to commit for a while – a month or more – to making a long-term impact in the country, then I would advise to just donating supplies or giving money to an existing organization to support their endeavors instead of volunteering to teach a class just for a day. I have volunteered in Thailand for a little while, which is perfect for travelers who have time and want to do even more. You will love visiting Thailand’s beautiful beaches, seeing its vibrant colors, meeting its friendly people, and exploring its ancient ruins and temples. You can enjoy all of that while volunteering in local projects, such as picking up trash while snorkeling Thailand’s otherwise beautiful waters and coral reefs or by staying with the hill tribes in the north.” – Patricia Serrano Chungsathaporn (Protravel, New York, NY)

“One of the best volunteering programs in Costa Rica is the Turtle Conservation Program founded in 1991. This amazing program has been protecting sea turtles and their nests. Until today more than 53,647 turtles have been released and 68,778 eggs protected. Travelers can partake in many volunteer activities, including signaling beaches, location, and adaptation of the turtle nurseries, moving the eggs to the nurseries, nursery data collection and night guards, and more. It’s a wonderful way of giving back.” – Elizabeth Burgos (Protravel, Encino, CA)

“I am personally committed to helping the endangered orangutans in Indonesia by donating a set U.S. dollar amount to Orangutan Foundation International for each traveler who books a tour with me. Numerous times a year, I take travel groups to Kalimantan in Borneo, Indonesia, to support the habitat for endangered orangutans.” – Irene Spencer (Protravel, San Diego, CA)

“There are so many ways you can volunteer your time and enjoy a great vacation. Closer to home, you can help repair hiking trails in Montana or travel farther away to care for animals such as sloths in a sanctuary in Costa Rica, joyful dolphins in Greece, or beautiful manatees in Florida or Belize. You could also join one of the many teams of doctors or dentists who visit developing nations. Your options are limitless, just make sure you support a respectable program.” – Elena Omard (Protravel, New York, NY)

Inspired to Volunteer? Connect with one of our expert travel agents.