What is Volunteer Tourism?

Volunteer tourism is an up and coming idea in travel where people go to a place in the world where their services or support helps the local people, wildlife or fauna in some way.

Doctors and nurses may take some vacation time to go a place, usually a third world country, where medical services are scarce or difficult to get to and volunteer their time and skills. Often these trips are scheduled by or with the help The Red Cross, UNICEF, or other non profit humanitarian group. Skilled workers volunteer to administer medical attention to locals who would otherwise not get the care at all.

This type of volunteer work can last a couple of weeks to a couple of months and services can include administration of medications or vaccines, treatment of routine and endemic infections and injuries or even surgery. Recent places where this type of tourism was effective was in the Ivory Coast and Gambia, both in Africa, and in Honduras. Volunteers can also assist with helping locals learn how to disinfect water, plant sustainable food sources and stay healthy.

Other volunteer tourism groups sign up for a few weeks to help build and rebuild homes in areas where natural disasters destroyed property. This was done recently in Haiti where hurricanes destroyed many of the homes. People donate their building skills, and strength to literally help rebuild lives. Groups such as Habitat for Humanity get involved in building projects.

Yet other groups focus on wildlife and forest preservation. People love to travel to exotic places to help turtles lay their eggs in places safe from predators and similar activities. They help educate locals on why it is important to conserve natural resources, drink clean water and save species from extinction.
Volunteers who enjoy volunteer tourism often have discovered that vacations shelling out money at theme parks just are no longer fun and want to teach family important values. Volunteer vacationers always help change lives if even on a small level. But mostly what they take home is how very much their own lives have changed with that experience and how good that feels.


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