Volunteering can be great. It is very rewarding and can be extremely helpful.
But how about voluntourism? It is certainly a controversial issue (other articles here and here). If you’re still set on voluntourism, do your research. Make sure the company you’ll be working with (if it’s a company) is well-regarded. Do a Google search to see if there are any controversies about the type of voluntourism you’re doing – you don’t want to end up doing more harm than good! For instance, there is a lot of talk about volunteering in orphanages that makes me believe that it is something you should avoid unless you are well qualified and have a lot of time to give.
Keeping all that in mind, what can I do while traveling? I used to be involved with some volunteer organizations – I’ve planted flowers, raised money for and participated in Relay for Life, and registered potential bone marrow donors in the Bone Marrow Drive. I enjoy doing that but I’m not sure how I feel about pairing volunteering and travel.
I do plan to do some work exchange during my round the world trip. This could involve working for an NGO in Cambodia or planting trees in Croatia. I think that this will be how I will give back to a community that I live in for a week or two.
Do you enjoy volunteering? Do you combine it with travel?