Volunteering on Vacation – How to Find and Prepare for a Social Good Trip

Check out these tips on how you can travel the world and help out a cause close to your heart.

Jun 20, 2018, 10:36 AM

When you dream of an amazing, future vacation, do you imagine a five-star resort with luxurious, white, sandy beaches with food and drinks galore? What happens when you want something different than that? A 2015 study by Marriott Rewards found that millennial travelers are seeking thrilling adventures and rewarding travels over leisurely vacations abroad. In response to this trend, social good trips are now more accessible than ever.

Perhaps you went on a mission trip with your church as a child. How about that friend who posted an album full of incredible photos of the school they built in a remote country? We are becoming more socially aware of where our dollars go. Have you ever donated an extra $1 at a pharmacy for a local charity? Or maybe a relative raised money for a medical surgery over GoFundMe? We give back with our dollars at home, but rather than donating money, you may feel a calling to donate your time and make an impact for a cause close to your heart on your next trip.

Mission trips via religious affiliations are some of the most common ways to get involved, but what about if you have a desire to help abroad without a religious affiliation? Social good trips are a way for you to get involved in activities and assist via disaster relief, medical service, education, language skills, environmental cleanup, and much more.

Think about what you are passionate about. Do you already volunteer for a local organization? There is a possibility that organization has connections with a sister organization overseas such as Peace Corp or PLAN, which are notable organizations with several volunteer opportunities.

Once you’ve found a trip you are interested in, there are some additional preparations you should take before you depart. With traveling to more exotic locations, comes a bigger risk. There are several destinations that the CDC has deemed required for pre-vaccination. With fundraising, packing, and planning, you want to make sure your healthcare isn’t an afterthought. Preparing with travel medical insurance can protect both your trip and your health in case of emergency. IMG offers several mission trip insurance plans.

For the other important preparations, the growth of voluntourism has increased the opportunity for more creative and comprehensive travel arrangements. Some volunteer trips will cover the cost of your living and dining in exchange for your volunteer service. A trip to a destination that once was only a dream could become a reality with the right volunteer opportunity.

If you are interested in a longer (more than 24 hours) volunteer opportunity, it’s important to keep in mind that these trips may require a lengthy stay. Social good trips can last anywhere from 3 days to several months.

When it comes time to embark on your trip, remember to go into your trip with an open mind, knowing that no matter what the activity may call for, you are making a difference. Bring a journal and camera to document your experience. If you are going longer than a month, starting a mission blog is a great way to keep your friends and family up to date on your trip. The amount of experience and knowledge you will gain will be worth documenting!

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