As someone who loves to travel and lives on a budget, I am always seeking out travel deals and cheaper ways to see the world. I also am a big advocate of volunteering. I not only spend time volunteering in my own city, but love to volunteer in other parts of the world as well.
In 2009 I went on a mission trip to Croatia and where I also taught English. I taught English in Barcelona and Japan as well. It is about time I went on another volunteer vacation, commonly referred to as voluntourism.
Why combine work with a vacation?
When you look a taking a budget vacation, one way to do this is by volunteering. Yes, there is a program cost involved, but it is still going to be (generally) cheaper than if you paid for all of your accommodations and meals on your own. A 2 week volunteer vacation can cost as little as $600 and that includes your room and 3 meals a day.
Many companies will throw in a few cultural classes or experiences on top of that or even travel insurance. These trips are typically geared towards students who are on a a budget. However, many adults participate in these types of trips in order to experience the culture and save some money.
You can also save money on your end of year taxes. Volunteer vacations are tax deductible, which can also be a cost savings.
I am not a tax advisor, so please don’t quote me as one. However, volunteer vacations can be considered a charitable deduction, which IS a allowable deduction on your income tax.
Some people take the time to set up some fundraising for the trip since it is for a worthy cause.
One of the biggest appeals to a volunteer vacation is the intrinsic rewards you get from helping out a village, city or region in need. Whether you are helping clean up after a natural disaster or cooking for orphans, at the end of the day you get a feeling of satisfaction.
Not only is volunteering rewarding, but provides real cultural immersion. Since most volunteer organizations have you stay with a family, you get a true sense of what day to day life is like in that city. The family can share some insider information about the city and the country that you probably wound not get on a mainstream vacation. Learning another language is another added benefit if you choose to communicate with the family and locals.
Working side by side with other volunteers and local members gives you a sense of community. GlobalVolunteers.org calls it “Travel that Feeds the Soul.”
Volunteering while on vacation is not the best choice for everyone since you will be working at least part of the time. Ask yourself is a volunteer vacation right for you? If it is, have a good time and get the most out your vacation.
Share your volunteer vacation experiences by commenting below.