Giving Back

This week’s Indie Travel Challenge prompt is about making plans to give back to the earth or the local community this year.

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?

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