Volunteering abroad can be an incredible experience that benefits communities around the world. However, making sure your trip is ethical and sustainable requires exhaustive research. Relying on a travel agent to book an international volunteer experience ensures the trip you choose has a positive lasting effect on the community you serve.
To find the right ethical volunteering experience, discuss these five questions with your travel agent:
- Will your work support local initiatives, rather than work against them? Working with long-term projects that help communities help themselves is essential in responsible volunteering. Talk with your travel agent about what causes are important to you and how long you want to volunteer for. That way, they can recommend an organization that will help you make a real difference.
- Does the organization support local businesses and workers? Understanding where the cost to attend a volunteer trip goes is essential. Fees should be invested in the community where you’ll be volunteering. Understanding where your money goes can help you choose the best volunteer organization. While in your destination, stay in locally-owned and -operated accommodations and support other local businesses.
- What projects has the organization completed in the past? With your agent, look at some of the projects your potential organization worked on in the past. Do they continue to have a positive impact on the community? Do they fit your interests?
- How do your skills relate to the organization’s mission? Your travel agent can find ethical volunteer experiences around the world. However, only you know what skills you can bring to underserved communities abroad. Discuss your strengths, certifications and past experiences with your agent.
- What screening and training will you need before volunteering? Some organizations provide training for volunteers before they travel. Other trips rely on in-person training. What works best for you depends on how long you have to volunteer, what your skillset is and what kind of volunteering you plan to do.