Category: Volunteer Vacations

Apr
20

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Tips for Families Traveling to the Galapagos

Posted by on April 20, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Family travel means good times, great company, and memories to last a lifetime. However, family Galapagos travel can be even more memorable! There are advantages for families island hopping around the Galapagos, rather than being trapped on a cruise or on the beach for an entire week.

Read on to learn how our Galapagos Family Vacation is uniquely designed for families, with itineraries that keep the kids thrilled and the parents happy/less stressed/enjoying the trip and the family time.

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Jan
19

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How Volunteer Travel is Fatal to Prejudice, Bigotry and Narrow-Mindedness

Posted by on January 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In a world where the career of “travel blogger” reigns high in the court of cool, there’s some inherent irony in the fact that the best-selling travel book of all time is nearly 150 years old.

Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, which humorously chronicles Twain’s experience traveling with a group of American tourists through Europe on a the steamship Quaker City, was first published in 1869. It was the best-selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime, and it remains the inspiration for wanderlust of epic proportions to this day.

Beyond inspiring generations of his literary fans with his signature humor, the book supports the idea that one should consider traveling to expand their own horizons.

One of the most quoted sections of the book reads as follows:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s life.” 

Essentially, Mark Twain—the father of American literature and arguably the greatest humorist of his age– believed that travel opens people up to world views that are nearly impossible to comprehend without first-hand experience. Scientists have even tried, through recent research, to prove this statement true.

At Discover Corps, we’d have to agree. It’s our opinion that meaningful travel experiences change lives for the better. We believe that volunteer travel is particularly fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Here’s how…

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Dec
8

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Why Mass Tourism and Volunteer Travel Don’t Mix

Posted by on December 8, 2016 · 1 Comment  

Last year, Carnival Corporation announced their newest cruise venture, Fathom. This voluntourism-focused brand promised cruise-goers a chance to “do good” in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Their commitment to projects that, in their words, “contribute to local economic development, education and environmental initiatives” seemed well-intentioned. But at Discover Corps, we are experts in sustainable, culturally sensitive short-term volunteering. As such, we were more than a little skeptical of this news.

Would a massive company like Carnival really be willing to put integrity before profit? How could meaningful volunteering be translated to a floating resort carrying more than 700 travelers at a time?

As it turns out, it couldn’t be. Just last week, Carnival announced that Fathom, the Do-Good Cruise Line, would be phased out after less than a year of operation. And while we’re honestly sad to see this happen, we’re not surprised.

Here’s a breakdown of why, in our opinion, mass tourism and volunteer travel simply don’t complement one another.Read More

Nov
22

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How to Choose Ethical Volunteer Organizations

Posted by on November 22, 2016 · 1 Comment  

A few decades ago, there were only a couple of options available if you wanted to volunteer internationally: Join the Peace Corps (a lengthy commitment) or take a mission trip with a religious group. The lack of volunteer organizations to choose from ultimately kept most people from volunteering abroad.

These days it’s much easier to find volunteer organizations that offer international experiences. Nearly all of them have an online presence, and it’s easy to find photos and reviews from previous travelers that can help you make a decision about which program to choose. But for many prospective volunteers, there’s another level to the decision-making process. What about ethics?

How do volunteers determine whether the organizations they’re considering working with are rooted in sustainable travel principles? It can be challenging to determine whether volunteer organizations are truly committed to bringing about long-term benefits to the host communities.

This is often the cause for criticism that voluntourism receives. But there are great opportunities out there for travelers who want to see the world and help out along the way.

Want to ensure that the program you’re volunteering with does more good than harm? Asking the following four questions before you sign up will help you weed through the murky waters and get the answers you need to make a decision about the best volunteer organizations for you…Read More

Oct
24

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Travel with the National Peace Corps Association

Posted by on October 24, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corps in 1961, marking one of his first actions as President of the United States. His vision was that the program would allow young Americans to live abroad and “promote peace and friendship…under conditions of hardship, if necessary.” Now, 55 years later, over 220,000 Americans have served communities in-need in more than 140 countries across the world.

Many people have the desire to promote positive change in the world through volunteering, and they dream of a Peace Corps experience. But not everybody who wants to give back has the ability to leave their whole life behind for 27 months. To that end, efforts have been made to expand opportunities to give back through Peace Corps initiatives for both Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and those who never had the chance to serve.

The National Peace Corps Association has partnered exclusively with Discover Corps to offer short-term volunteer vacations that contribute to existing Peace Corps initiatives. These Next Step Travel Vacations are an exciting opportunity for those who want to try their hand at volunteering abroad with the Peace Corps on a short trip.

These trips give travelers a glimpse into the life of a Peace Corps volunteer, or take them back to the time when they, themselves, were serving. But they also give them a great combination of bucket list and immersive local experiences in a new place. Check out some of the most popular (and meaningful) opportunities to volunteer with the Peace Corps on Next Step Travel vacations…

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May
10

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10 Tips for Having Better Volunteering Experiences

Posted by on May 10, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

People who seek out volunteering experiences when they travel usually do so with the intention of making a positive impact. We want to help people. We want to help animals. We want to save the environment, improve living conditions, and build futures. In essence, we’re devoting our time and energy to something much greater than ourselves: The idea of making the world a better place.

Unfortunately, as the number of volunteer travelers continues to increase exponentially each year, so does the misappropriation of their hours and efforts. For many NGOs, the additional help is too good to pass up. But finding the right tasks for well-intentioned (but often unskilled) volunteers has  proven a challenge.

With the right mindset, traveling volunteers can work with and truly help local non-profits and NGOs accomplish their important goals. Here are our tips for having a better volunteering experience when you travel:

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Apr
26

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Defending Voluntourism: Where Critics Get It Wrong (& Right)

Posted by on April 26, 2016 · 1 Comment  

According to a recent story by NPR, volunteer tourism (a.k.a. voluntourism) currently ranks among the travel industry’s fastest growing trends.

Rather than taking traditional sun-and-sand vacations, an average of more than 1.6 million people are spending about $2 billion annually on voluntourism. Instead of hanging out on a cruise ship or sunning themselves on some gorgeous tropical beach, volunteer travelers work with local partners in developing countries on programs that address basic needs such as education, health and sanitation.

But as the popularity of voluntourism continues to grow, the industry has attracted more than its fair share of critics and skeptics. They question whether volunteer vacations do more to benefit the travelers themselves (who are often young adults looking to add such experiences to their resumes and college applications) than they do to help local communities.

You only have to look at the titles of most mass media stories on voluntourism to understand their concerns. NPR questions As ‘Voluntourism’ Explodes In Popularity, Who’s It Helping Most? The Guardian warns readers to Beware the Voluntourists Intent on Doing Good. As always, Huffington Post provokes with its piece on The Problem With Little White Girls, Boys and Voluntourism. There’s even an Instagram feed called “White Savior Barbie” that pokes fun at voluntourism-related issues.

Each of these articles offers many valid points about the issues associated with voluntourism. But few of them dig deep enough to address the differences a responsibly-managed volunteer vacation program can make in terms of creating deeper cross-cultural connections. Here, we’ll take a look at the history of volunteering abroad and address some of the core criticisms…
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Apr
13

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The Benefits of Volunteering as a Family

Posted by on April 13, 2016 · 1 Comment  

 

Family is so important. We’d all like to see our families grow closer and stronger. But finding the time and the activities to bring our family members together can be a challenge.

Different ages, interests, schedules, and personalities can make it difficult to get everyone on the same page. But despite our many differences, we’re still family.

Volunteering as a family is an excellent way to close the gap between ages, interests, and more. It’s an activity that everyone can enjoy, while learning the value of doing good things for the causes and the people we care about.

With April being National Volunteer Month, we took time to consider the many ways that volunteering could help make your family closer and stronger.

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Mar
21

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The Benefits of Volunteering

Posted by on March 21, 2016 · 2 Comments  

When you travel to a foreign country to volunteer, your primary motivation should ideally be about having a positive impact on the place you’re visiting. The essence of volunteering is to embrace a cause outside of ourselves, and to focus on issues that our bigger than our own.

But that doesn’t mean that that the benefits of volunteering don’t directly affect travelers in powerful ways. It absolutely does!

While we work to help other people, we’re also working to help ourselves. Volunteering has a variety of positive effects on both the people who are receiving assistance and those who are assisting. The cultural exchange alone provides powerful and lasting benefits to volunteers and locals alike.

If you’re considering taking a volunteer vacation, consider the positive impact you can have on the people and the cause you’re going to support first. But then, consider the ways that volunteering can help you, too.

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