Bringing awareness to the benefits of service travel

Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Best Part of Volunteer Travel

Baby on plane

Courtesy of artolog,

Okay, you get onto a plane and find yourself seated next to a family who is beginning a “volunteer vacation.”  Where are they going?  Why are they going there, and what do they hope to get out of the trip? What can they expect to be the best parts, and the worst parts, of the trip?

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A Sea Turtle Opportunity

sea turtles, sunbathing

Source: Flickr links volunteer travelers to many exciting websites that support turtle conservation, both through direct donation and through opportunities for ethical vacationing.  Voluntourism in support of sea turtles gives us real opportunities for self-development, to make a difference, to participate in scientific research, and to connect with the water and animals.

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VolunTourism in Mexico

In 1983, an older friend asked if I wanted to come down into deep Mexico, for a week, to help him with some volunteer work there.  At that time, he didn’t think of it as “voluntourism,” an “ethical holiday,” or “sustainable tourism.”  He called it going down to see some friends.

boy, world, face


We drove through the border at El Paso, and into Juarez, in his old camper truck.  The ride seemed innocuous enough, until we got down south out of the populated area.  Within a couple of miles, I saw an abandoned car by the side of the road and … stopped breathing for a minute.  It’s one thing to see a car on blocks with the tires gone.  It’s another thing to see a car with the engine gone, the axles gone, the side panels gone, the hood gone, the seats all gone, the steering wheel gone … later, when the Terminator movies came out, I thought of that car.  It looked like Hunter-Killer robots had mined it for any possible morsel of salable scrap.  The stripped chassis of the car screamed “survival mode.”  We ain’t in Kansas any more, Dorothy.

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