Have you thought about combining travel with volunteering? Do you want to add purpose to your travels? More and more seniors are taking advantage of the opportunity to see new places and contribute at the same time. From that, the term “voluntourism” was coined.
What is Voluntourism?
Voluntourism combines sightseeing and volunteering into one trip. With international volunteering, you travel to a location to serve and volunteer your skills. You’ll find substantial opportunities for seniors to do either or both throughout the world.
Older travelers are volunteering abroad more and more. We bring more skills, experience, and maturity to the table than can students.
How Much Will It Cost me?
As an article here states, “Volunteering abroad costs money because when people come to volunteer, expenses are incurred. Volunteers need food, housing, and airport pick-up, among other things. Volunteers also need local staff to provide program orientation, safety management, language skills, and overall leadership and structure of the work to be done. Some people believe that you should only volunteer for free. However, technically, it’s impossible to volunteer for free. Somebody has to pay for your living expenses.”
Expect to pay for your transportation to the country, for passport and visas, and any required vaccinations, travel insurance, and spending money. In addition, you’ll be paying for in-country support and supervision, airport pickup, accommodations and meals, and other administrative costs. Estimates at the Go Overseas site for a two-week volunteer trip:
- To Peru the cost is estimated to range from $1,341 on the lower end, to $3,151 on the higher end.
- To Costa Rica the cost is estimated to range from $1,112 on the lower end, to $2,126 on the higher end.
- To Australia, the cost is estimated to range from $1,900.95 on the lower end, to $3,037.95 on the higher end.
- To South Africa, the cost is estimated to range from $3,099 on the lower end, to $3,725 on the higher end.
The bottom line is that it is not cheap and you would be wise to read reviews of any program you are considering to ensure that your money is well spent. Many organizations provide scholarships, grants, and fund-raising opportunities to help cover costs of volunteering.
Voluntourism Opportunities for Seniors
Many sites on the web offer volunteer opportunities worldwide in all fields. Whatever your past experience and/or expertise, there are communities that can use your help.
Over 50 and Overseas is a resource of international volunteer and travel opportunities. It is an informative and resource-intensive website for those who are mature or senior in age, who may have retired, and wish to volunteer overseas in order to make a difference. The site offers many ways to search for the volunteer opportunity that suits you:
- Type, such as animal aid, environmental, teaching, professional services, faith based, and many more.
- Region, such as Africa, Europe, South America, etc.
You’ll find many, many links, sometimes, pages and pages, to those sites that provide opportunities in the type, region, or country you’ve chosen.
GoEco “GoEco is a leading eco-tourism company with a varied selection of affordable, ethical volunteer projects abroad. Our team is made up of experienced and passionate specialists who are eager to give you the voluntourism vacation of a lifetime!”
Many of the locations throughout the world are setup to accept senior volunteers. One feature of the company is their ambassador program, designed to give you information from a previous volunteer, to help you decide is their program is for you:
“GoEco also manages a unique Ambassador program that connects potential volunteers (like you) and those who have already travelled abroad on one of our programs. This means one of our past volunteers will happily chat to you about their experience volunteering abroad.
“These conversations can help deal with any doubts or questions you might have so you are better prepared for your volunteer abroad experience. The last thing we want is for you to end up in a program that doesn’t suit you. Essentially, our ambassador program is another tool we use to make sure you get all the right information before setting off on your adventure.”
Go Overseas links to several sites that they feel offer the best opportunities for seniors to volunteer their skills. Several of the sites offer the volunteers upgrade options, in order to afford them more comfortable accommodations for an additional cost, for example. As they say on their site, “A New Perspective is the Best Souvenir. Go Overseas is your guide to 14,000+ programs that will change how you see the world.”
Similarly, Volunteer Forever provides links to what they deem are the best volunteer abroad programs. They also offer a method to help you decide what interests you: “So you’ve decided that you want to volunteer abroad but you aren’t sure where you want to go or what you want to do. See our general travel guides to get you started!”
One unique opportunity is the chance to volunteer with the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. You can join the army in Israel for a few weeks! Much of the work is very meaningful. Like checking dates on medications in the medical backpacks taken into the field. Or repairing tank helmets. You could help save a life. You’ll live on an army base somewhere in Israel and stay in the barracks. Meals are eaten with the soldiers. Each week you volunteer you will be taken to an interesting site nearby for a guided tour. Checkout the website for applications and more information here.
For even more sites with volunteer links and opportunities, do an online search for, “Senior volunteer opportunities.” And check out another article about volunteering here on our site.
Find someone to volunteer with you by becoming a member and search for a travel mate!