What is Voluntourism?

by | Apr 2019

Collecting rubbish off a beach. Plastic containers, bottles in their bag. They are using a mechanical grabber. Three women and a man working together


Your adventures abroad can serve a greater good.

There’s an important trend in travel that many people are calling “voluntourism”—travel with a little philanthropy mixed in. There are many ways to get involved while you’re traveling; some trips might include planting trees or cleaning up beaches. You can look for a guided trip, like Mollie’s recent sojourn to Guatemala, where she led a group of women who purchased and installed water filters and Onil stoves, via an organization called Mayan Families. The families who received the filters and stoves welcomed the travelers into their homes. The travelers saw firsthand how happy these families are with far less “stuff” than we have; most of their homes are a single room, with one mattress, housing six or more people. In February, another group of women headed to El Salvador to renovate a rural school, including doing some gardening.

The next time you plan a trip (even here in the states), think about how you might do some volunteering while you’re there. It provides a meaningful experience and a deeper appreciation when you return home.

Mollie Krengel is the founder of adventure-based business Wild Bum. Roy Krengel owns Krengel Dental. They share travel insights in this column, with their globetrotting kids Liam (12), Ella (12) and Rafi (8).


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