Tag: volunteer vacations Page 5 of 5




What’s the Point of Volunteering Abroad?

Posted by on December 30, 2014 · 11 Comments  

A few weeks ago, we received an interesting comment on our post “Do Volunteer Vacations Do More Harm Than Good?

The commenter noted:

“You don’t address the issue of money spent making the trip as opposed to simply donating money to an indigenous charity working directly with the people.”

And it’s a great point. Many of you might wonder: “What’s the point of volunteering abroad? Isn’t it better to just donate money to a local charity?”Read More




How to Prepare Your Kids for a Volunteer Vacation

Posted by on December 9, 2014 · 2 Comments  

Winter break is right around the corner, which means we’re about to host lots of family trips with school-aged children — and we can’t wait! As you know, we love family volunteer vacations because they’re educational AND fun.

If you’re about to embark on your first family volunteer vacation (or trip abroad, for that matter), you might be wondering how to prepare your kids. After all, you want them to get the most out of this experience by being excited and curious — rather than scared and unhappy. And to do that, you’re going to need to take a few steps before getting on the plane.

With that in mind, here are six ways to prepare your kids for a volunteer vacation:Read More




10 Things We’re Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Posted by on November 25, 2014 · Leave a Comment  

Traveling to a developing country can be many things: exhilarating, eye-opening, scary, joyful, and challenging, to name a few. But there’s one emotion that is almost certain to surface after a trip abroad, and it’s gratitude.

This gratitude-inducing quality is one of the things that makes experiential travel so powerful; it makes you appreciate what you have.

Since our Discover Corps team firmly believes in practicing gratitude, we’re excited to share 10 things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving.Read More




Family Volunteer Vacations: Beyond the Classroom

Posted by on July 25, 2014 · Leave a Comment  

Recall the days when you were a child, questioning everything around you and developing your sense of self. “Those were the days” many people like to say. But imagine if you had the opportunity to travel with your family to a far-flung corner of the world, coming face to face with the local communities. How would that have changed your outlook?

In a recent article in Conde Nast Traveler, Claire Shipman describes the importance of exposing children to the outside world. Turn off the technology, open up their eyes and unveil the world around them, argues Claire. Volunteering abroad together as a family allowed her to take her children outside of their suburban “bubble” and engage with a community of people in a culture unlike their own.  Volunteer vacations for families raise questions that are great conversation starters.

  • “Why do people eat with their hands here?”
  • “How do locals get water from the well to their house”
  • “Why don’t all students have pens and notebooks in this school?”

These are all questions a child might ask that may seem quite simple from a distance, but have much deeper roots. Travelling as a family opens up these conversations and creates a unique opportunity to share in the curiosity of your children.

A family volunteer abroad trip is also the perfect way to combine much needed time off with a strong educational component. Claire talks about the valuable life lessons that her children took away from even a short volunteer stint. These include empathizing with others and learning about the value of simplicity. Seeing the other side of the coin, as many put it, truly changes one’s outlook.

If you are looking for your next family vacation, why not combine relaxation with a fun and meaningful experience? Discover Corps offers family friendly volunteer vacations in Asia, Africa and Latin America, just look for the “FF” next to the dates. Who knows, your kids may thank you for this someday.



1 Comment

Voluntourism: Doing it Right (Part 2)

Posted by on July 25, 2014 · 1 Comment  

tz-boys-outside-school-500pxIn our last post, we discussed the key points to take into consideration when planning a volunteer vacation. These include the long term development plan of projects, the stakeholders involved and ongoing involvement of the local communities.

The debate over voluntourism continues. The primary question that is typically raised remains a simple one- how much of a difference can I really make in such a short period of time?

But the answer is not that simple. Don’t consult the community and accompany an organization that blindly implements projects? You’re probably not making a huge difference. Work closely with trusted partners and people who have strong relationships with the community? You’re contributing towards a larger goal that is in the interest of the community.

This is one of the reasons we partner with the National Peace Corps Association. Connections with returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) throughout the developing world help us identify projects that are both highly impactful on the communities and have long-term development plans. These are people that intimately know the members of the towns and villages we volunteer in.

We return to the same communities and make incremental, sustainable progress on the projects with each group that joins us. Whether it’s the classes we teach in Guatemala, the sustainable bottle schools we build in the Dominican Republic or the women’s shelter we visit in Thailand, these projects are carried out gradually by members of our groups.

The result is a productive volunteer travel experience that connects you, the traveler, with the communities while producing meaningful change.

Inspiring the community. Developing lasting friendships. Leaving a positive footprint behind. This is voluntourism done right.



1 Comment

Voluntourism: Doing it Right

Posted by on December 22, 2013 · 1 Comment  

Recently, the radio program “Here And Now” on NPR ran this thought-provoking story about voluntourism.  In it, they described the debate that has encircled volunteer travel ever since it started – how to balance the experience provided by the travel company with the well-being of the community.

Discover Corps doesn’t think it’s a balancing act – it’s not either / or. It’s both.  In our years of running volunteer abroad trips, we’ve learned that the best travel experiences are actually facilitated when the volunteer work is truly benefiting the community.  Our travelers are smart and can quickly detect if a volunteer project is just busy work.  The local communities also detects whether the group is working on something meaningful or if they’re just a fly-by-night group.

So, how do we provide these quality projects on an ongoing basis?  Our secret is that we invest a lot of time in finding NGOs, non-profits, or community organizations that run meaningful projects year-round.  We work in consultation with them to see how we can plug in our groups in a way that catalyzes their work and propels it forward.

The questions raised by the NPR story are great ones to ask whenever you talk to a volunteer travel organization.

  • What’s the long term development plan?
  • Which local stakeholders are involved in the planning of the service projects?
  • How do you facilitate ongoing involvement after the trip?
  • How long have you been working with this community?

Have you had any negative international volunteer abroad experiences?  If so, please share in the comments so others can be aware.