Volunteer while on holiday – voluntourism

Going on holiday and having time to do something voluntary is the perfect combination. You take the chance to add a special experience and element to your trip, you won’t regret!

The way you do voluntary work or the type of project you will join, fully depends on the destination you will travel. But wherever you go, there is always something to do!

You can both plan voluntary work during your holiday or you can do it flexible.

Plan voluntary work

If you know your routes and where you will be during a certain time, it is advisable to browse online on charity organizations in the area of your holiday. Sometimes these organizations offer voluntary options on their website already, otherwise you can contact them in advance about your availability (when you are there), your skills and how you would like to help. This way you can arrange it in advance, knowing where to go, who to meet, what to expect and what to bring (please, don’t forget to bring donations whenever you can).

Voluntary work that works best when planned:

  • Wildlife rehabitations
  • Volunteering in schools, daycare or kindergarten
  • Elderly care, care centers and hospitals

Spontaneous voluntary work

If your trip is still a bit open, it’s hard to plan fixed days in advance to do voluntary work. But you can still do voluntary work when you are abroad. It would be good to check in advance what organizations are active in your destination. Write a few names down including the location. If your plans are very open, you can also browse a few days in advance of arrival. Just consider it takes time to contact some organizations and arrange something. Try to reach out to organizations you would like to help, about 5-7 days in advance. Be sure to reach out by email or phone and be clear about your availability (when you are there), your skills and how you would like to help. This way you can arrange it quickly and on short notice, knowing where to go, who to meet, what to expect and what to bring (please, don’t forget to bring donations whenever you can).

Projects that fit spontaneous volunteering:

  • Walking dogs from a shelter
  • Cleaning shelters

Make sure you exchange phone-numbers with your contact person when you arrange voluntary work. Emailing is a great tool to communicate but once you are traveling, WIFI can be limited and it’s good to be able to reach out to each-other.

It’s important to understand that some organizations love help for one day or half a day and will be very enthusiastic to welcome you, but some organizations have more difficulties with it. This doesn’t have anything to do with YOU, but sometimes guiding and learning new people what to do can be a very demanding task for them. Also some tasks or charities demand a more experienced person.

Paid volunteering work:

Be aware to check online or by email whether they ask you for a payment to volunteer. If so, please consider the amount and question the purpose of the payment. In my opinion, the costs to guide you, transport you and give you lunch, snacks and water should be compensated and can be a reasonable payment to do. If the payment includes a donation to the charity as well, question yourself if you feel like doing this amount of donation. In general working a day as a volunteer should not cost you more than $30,- US dollars. A lot of organizations welcome volunteers for free though. If you doubt whether the amount requested is reasonable, please get in touch with us so we can advice you.