I am super excited about today’s post because this is a topic near and dear to me. I think I might be making my blog more geared towards Voluntourism in the future but for now traveling on a budget is the main focus.
I consider this post to be a part of my “pre-trip series” I mentioned in Where In the World Should I Volunteer?. Which is a great supplemental post to this one!
What is Voluntourism?
Without further a due, let’s talk about voluntourism. So what is it?
Voluntourism is the perfect blend between international volunteer opportunities and tourism. The idea is to volunteer with locals, allowing for cultural immersion and a richer tourist experience while supporting the local communities and economy.
Why should I engage in Voluntourism?
I love talking about voluntourism because I feel like anyone capable of having empathy will benefit greatly from the voluntourism experience.
When you go on vacation abroad there is obviously a reason you chose to spend hundreds of dollars on an international flight, and I doubt it was just for you to sit on the beach and look pretty. The whole idea is to experience new things and a different culture. What better way to do that than to volunteer with locals?
When you volunteer rather than stay in a ritzy resort, you get a very different flavor of the culture. I hate to break it to you guys but, the Marriott Ubud isn’t exactly the epitome of Balinese culture.
I guess it depends on what you aim to get out of your experience but I highly recommend trading in the popular “instagramable” spots to indulge in the every day life of locals. You will learn a ton about yourself and a lot about a new corner of the world.
The ethics of Voluntourism
The ethical aspect of Voluntourism has been a debate for sometime, which is why I think it is important to talk about it in this post. Part of understanding what voluntourism is, entails understanding the not so positive sides.
Historically Voluntourism is quite new, most would say it hit the travel industry around the 1950s. What started as an amazing way for countries to engage in cross-cultural conversation, quickly became jaded by “elite/wealthy westerners” trying to “save” developing nations.
Unfortunately, this is a stereo-type we, as “westerners”, have to aim to break. Remember, just because there are places in the world that don’t have the same modern amenities we do, doesn’t mean they need fixing.
People don’t travel to convert everyone to their culture… at least that shouldn’t be your objective. We go to learn, to experience. So, pull up your boot straps and get ready to open your mind and partake in a new culture.
Treat everything like a lesson, learn from the people you meet, and engage with the environment, I promise it will be one of the most beautiful experience you’ve ever had.
What is the cost?
The wonderful thing about Voluntourism is that there are options for any budget!
I mentioned Grassroots in the post I linked above, this site is amazing for finding ethical and local volunteer organizations. I am not a big fan of huge corporate organizations like IVHQ, but I do understand that this is the best option for some.
The trip I am embarking on in about a month from now cost roughly $1500 after everything is said and done. That price includes my airfare,accomidation, travel vaccines, travel insurance, and airport transfer.
In the grand scheme of things, that is a super inexpensive trip considering I will be gone for a month. I strongly believe this is a viable option for anyone who wishes to give voluntourism a go. If I can afford it working 2 minimum wage jobs and putting myself through school, so can you!
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