Ecotourism has taught us how to travel without leaving footprints, but its latest off-shoot, voluntourism, will show us how to deliberately immerse ourselves in the places we visit and leave them not so much undisturbed but changed for the better. If you are bored of travel where you simply tick off the sights on the same old tourist trail then maybe you should discover what is rapidly becoming the next big thing in adventurous travel: voluntourism.

Opportunities to volunteer on projects overseas have mushroomed over the past decade and more and more people are finding out just how exciting, educational, emotional and different such travel can be. Organizations like Projects Abroad Canada now list hundreds of projects in many countries worldwide that could last anything from a couple of weeks to a year. Here are some of the benefits of volunteering for the intrepid traveller.

Go Beyond The Tourist Trail

Volunteer projects enable the traveller to tread far off the tourist trail and to see and do things the average tourist simply can’t. Living amongst local communities you become part of the cultural life of the places you stay in, and living amongst the community you see and understand so much more about their everyday life. The project you work on could have you diving in Thailand to conserve marine life, protecting rare species of giraffe in Kenya, working as a care volunteer in India or even teaching Costa Rican street children football skills.

Photo Credit: mrbichel

Get Involved

Much has been said about the voyeuristic tendencies of tourism but as a volunteer you become part of the communities you visit. You no longer need to stand feeling uneasy on the sidelines with your camera dangling limply in your hand. You will be part of a valuable project that is helping those you visit. Feel rewarded

The rewards of volunteering overseas go well beyond the exciting travel experiences it offers. It is a great way to learn the local language, to develop vocational skills and experience, to make new friends amongst the international volunteer community and to feel good about your travels and yourself.

Photo Credit: Vision Service Adventures

Make A Difference

Wherever your skills lie there is an opportunity to make a real difference and to see the world differently. Opportunities exist all over the world in fields as diverse as teaching, archaeology, conservation, care, community work, construction, human rights, care work and journalism. You can develop new skills, whilst you have the trip of a lifetime in exciting places. That is travel with a purpose and travel with a difference!