VolunTOURism: 6 Steps to Successfully Volunteer While Traveling
By: Cara Parenti, Work and Travel Intern
Tourism can generally be defined as the practice of traveling to a place for pleasure. As a tourist, why not enjoy the pleasure of helping others? Helping out your community is great, but volunteering while traveling allows you to help out other communities too. By volunteering while traveling, not only do you get to see different parts of the world, but you also get to make a difference. Here are 6 easy steps to successfully volunteer while traveling:
1. Find a cause that you are passionate about.
Identifying a cause that you are passionate about will make it easier for you to narrow down your options when searching for a volunteer opportunity. For example, if you are passionate about helping animals, you might search for animal shelters in the area that you are traveling to. Here are some examples of volunteer opportunities that you can get involved with on a flexible basis:
- Environmental clean-ups/park clean-ups
- Sorting donations at a store/food bank
- Shelving books at a library
2. Determine how much time you have.
The amount of time you have to volunteer is something that you will want to share with volunteer organizations that you are interested in. There are plenty of people out there that need your help, so finding a short-term volunteer opportunity shouldn’t be difficult. Many organizations are flexible and don’t require a lasting commitment. Because you are looking to volunteer during you travels, it is a good idea to figure out your volunTOURism a few weeks before your trip.
Sometimes researching volunteer opportunities can be exhausting and time-consuming, especially while traveling. Here are a few ways to find volunteer organizations:
- HandsOn Network
Look for a volunteer center in the area you are headed. Most volunteer centers are a part of the HandsOn Network, and you can find a map of them here. Once you find an action center in the area that you are visiting, click on the link to find a list of volunteer opportunities available.
Volunteering is made easy by visiting volunteermatch.org and entering the city that you are going to visit. Volunteermatch filters available volunteer opportunities based on your interests, so you’ll enjoy with your experience!
- CCI Greenheart’s Cultural Flyers
CCI Greenheart provides participants with cultural flyers that list volunteer opportunities in different communities. Visit the website to see if there is a cultural flyer listed for the community you are traveling to.
4. Ask Around
Finding volunteer opportunities doesn’t have to require extensive research. If you don’t have or want to put in the time to research opportunities, when traveling, contact NGOs once you arrive in a community, or ask locals about opportunities to give back to their communities. Also, if you know someone in the area that you are traveling to they can most likely help you find a local organization with volunteer opportunities. Maybe while you are traveling you have a day off and you just feel like volunTOURing during your trip – find a park and do a spontaneous clean-up! Creating your own volunteer opportunity is always an option.
5. Contact an Organization
After you have found an organization that you are interested in, contact them directly. Explain to them that you are traveling and looking for a flexible volunteer opportunity. When you contact them, be sure to make it clear that this will be a one-time thing and not a weekly/monthly commitment.
Remember that when you are volunteering not only are you helping others, but you’re also helping yourself. Volunteering is an extremely eye-opening and rewarding experience. Volunteering while traveling is a great way to connect with others and allows you to see more of the world. Always remember that you can make a difference wherever you are! So, get out there and volunteer!
While traveling, it is easy to get distracted by wonderful experiences, but don’t forget to log your volunteer hours in your CCI Online account. Entering your volunteer hours makes you eligible for Greenheart Rewards. If you want to volunteer while traveling, and are having trouble finding an opportunity, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Have fun volunteering and Go Greenheart!