Teen Voluntourism: A New Teen Travel Trend

Courtesy of Flickr User Mike Baird

Courtesy of Flickr User Mike Baird

Are you looking for a different kind of vacation opporuntity for your teen? A new trend called Voluntourism provides an amazing opportunity for young people to do good with their vacation time and give back while exploring the world.

Families can pick a destination and type of project. Here are some example voluntourism trips:

  • Wildlife conservation in Peru
  • Endangered species work in Africa
  • Building Schools in Southeast Asia
  • Helping Orphanages in South America

How can parents and teens voluntour successfully? Here are some tips for you:

1. Don’t Expect Luxury

Voluntourism is about helping others–it’s not about luxury hotels or big buffets. So be sure to get in the right mindset.

2. Practice A Language

While many trips do not require foreign language skills. if you took Spanish or French in High School consider signing up for a trip in a country that speaks that language. This can help you practice and your connection with local people.

3. It’s Not Free!

Usually voluntourists pay for travel expenses and sometimes even lodging or food. While this is far less than a vacation, think about it as part of your investment in doing good.

4. Safety First

Check the political climate and area crime reports before booking your trip. Also be sure to get immunizations and a full medical check-up before leaving.

5. Do Your Due Dilligence

Make sure your program is legitimate and has had success in the past. Go through a reputable organization and get references from past participants. Here are some great programs for teens.

Voluntourism Trips for Teens


2 Responses to “Teen Voluntourism: A New Teen Travel Trend”

  1. My Decorating Tips
    September 18, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Great post Vanessa, I used to take my kids during a vacation and help with charity works like gathering clothes to be donated. This Voluntourism is a whole new level and it is really worth a try.

  2. jsharpe2001
    December 19, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    There are literally hundreds of service learning programs that work specifically with teens and the selection represented in this article is woefully inadequate with only a couple that are “respected” in the student travel industry in my opinion. (By the way, don’t be fooled by People to People’s prestigious sounding invitations – just Google “People to People reviews” and you’ll see what I mean.)

    Most glaringly absent from this article is that fact that there is no reference to any of the controversy and potential harm that volunteering can cause. Orphanage voluntourism, in particular, is notoriously problematic, yet that is one of the voluntourism examples provided.

    Additionally, the author advises “due diligence” to verify programs have had “success” in the past, but what does “success” mean in this context. Success for whom? The participant? The beneficiary? Both? Sadly, programmatic “success” in the high school voluntourism industry typically hinges on ill-informed students having fun. This leads to positive reviews for the program, but rarely does that equate to meaningful positive outcomes for host communities, and may have negative impacts.

    This is clearly a scantily researched article. I don’t think anyone is expecting a full discourse on the challenges of development work in a parenting blog, but it borders on irresponsible as currently written.

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