Are you a spontaneous traveler who likes to have the freedom to play things by ear? Do you prefer to get a little professional assistance with organizing the detailed minutiae of your trip? Or are you the sort of traveler who prefers to have a knowledgeable, experienced representative plan your entire trip for you, so that you can relax and simply focus on enjoying the experience once you’re in-country?
These are all personal decisions: There is really no better or worse, right or wrong way to approach arranging Volunteer Vacations. Volunteer preferences can range from wanting complete freedom and arriving in a destination with absolutely nothing pre-arranged, to having the entire trip planned out in advance by those who understand the culture and the cause at hand.
Let’s discuss the three different types of Volunteer Vacations in more detail, to help you decide which of these different approaches would be best suited for you…
The Independent Trip
The Independent Trip is perfect for the sort of volunteer who wants to keep their costs low and their options wide open. Their time is typically very flexible, and they don’t mind researching and planning out an itinerary by themselves. The independent volunteer is usually fairly well-traveled, so they’re accustomed to showing up in a new place with little guidance and figuring it out along the way.
If you choose to plan your volunteer vacation independently, without consultation from any sort of professional organization, you do face some inherent risks in the unknown. There will likely be very little (or no) support if something goes wrong. All of the logistics and other organizational details will fall on you, and keeping track of all that info can be more than a little stressful.
But for those free spirits seeking adventure and limitless flexibility in their volunteer experiences, the reward can often be greater than the risk. If you do plan to “play it by ear” when you travel and volunteer abroad, it’s important to at least do some research into the local customs and seek advice from locals on how you can best be of service to the cause you choose. There are few things worse than Voluntourism that does more harm than good.
On The Ground Organization
This is a middle-of-the road option that allows for plenty of independence and personal planning of your volunteer vacation, while ultimately seeking an organization to partner with once you’re on the ground in your destination.
This option works well for those who travel regularly and may not necessarily plan out their entire trip far in advance, but who– once they’re there– wish to have the support of a trusted organization that can help them navigate the culture at hand, as well as all of those pesky logistics we discussed.
Partnering with an in-country organization can often help save you time and stress in planning, but it will likely cost a little more money than going it alone.
Full-Service Trip Planning
The last type of volunteer vacation is what we offer here at Discover Corps. While this option may cost a little more than the others at the off-set, the ability to plan your trip in advance with people who understand how everything works in your destination can potentially save you money (not to mention a ton of headaches and hassles) in the long run.
Sorting out the details before your trip always ensures a less stressful, lower-risk experience. So while you’re paying us to sort out the minutiae, you also won’t have to figure it out for yourself if and when those nitty-gritty details don’t go as planned. If you were planning it all yourself, those details could ultimately wind up costing you a lot of money!
When you travel with a professionally managed organization such as Discover Corps, your trip is in the trusted hands of people who really know the country. They understand the ins and outs of the local culture. They’ve organized these trips time and time again. And their knowledge and experience can ultimately help save you a lot of time and energy in trip planning.
If your time is limited and you have the money to afford a full-service volunteer organization like Discover Corps, you’ll inevitably enjoy an authentic cultural experience in your chosen destination. We’ve made it our mission to make sure that it’s one you will never, ever forget.
Before you decide which of these types of volunteer vacations is right for you, we encourage everyone to do some advance research. We want all of our potential volunteers to find the travel experience that is just right for them. We hope you’ll take a look at the myriad programs we offer. And if you do decide that Discover Corps is right for you, then we look forward to helping you plan the volunteer trip of a lifetime!