Many people would like to travel to an exotic location to relax, eat delicious food, and learn about new cultures. However, something which many trips lack is the ability to connect with the locals outside of popular tourist attractions. One of the most rewarding ways to get to know locals is via community service. Whether you volunteer for just a day or take an entire trip dedicated to service, volunteering is a great way to see the world, help others in need, and really get to know the culture and traditions of foreign communities.
What Kinds of Service Trips are Available?
You can find service trips available around the world, but third world countries or areas struck by disaster tend to have more available. Service trips encompass just about everything you can think of, from construction to teaching to nature cleanup. For a wide selection of domestic trips, consider a nature-based adventure with the Sierra Club. You can attend local, national, or international outings that can range from a day to several weeks. The trips primarily involve cleanup, though others involve maintaining historical sites, assisting with research, and more.
Trips around the world are incredibly diverse in terms of the service types available. Global Leadership Adventures offers activities around the world, including running a summer camp in India, teaching healthcare in Ghana, or doing nature restoration in Costa Rica. Cross-Cultural Solutions is another service trip organization, offering trips to improve education and healthcare in Thailand, address social issues in Morocco, or even fight AIDS in South Africa.
Why Take a Service Trip?
Service trips offer countless benefits. First, you get a chance to help make a difference in a community or environment that needs help. Most people who volunteer feel really good about the work that they do. Volunteering gives you a chance to make a special connection with a new location, a chance you might not get on a traditional vacation. Most importantly, service trips give you an incredible chance to experience local tradition and culture.
What Preparations are Necessary?
The preparations needed for a service trip are the same as those necessary for any big trip. You’ll have to pack your belongings, book a plane ticket, pay travel costs, and take time off work. If you’re heading to certain countries, especially many African countries, you’ll need to get special vaccinations to protect you while you’re abroad. It’s also important to prepare for cultural differences, particularly if you’re heading to an area where poverty and illness are especially prevalent.
Mixing Service and Pleasure
One question many potential volunteers ask is whether or not it is appropriate to add some fun, relaxing time to a service trip. Many families and individuals appreciate having both, but the general consensus is that it’s best to have fun and then work. Working in a third world country and then trying to relax at a five-star resort is difficult for most. The wealth disparity makes it tough to enjoy the fun times, and many volunteers say they end up wishing they could just send the money spent on fun back to wherever they were volunteering.
Service trips provide a great way to see the world, make a difference, and experience local culture. Whether you just want to volunteer for a day on your vacation or want to take an entire trip dedicated to service, many great opportunities exist. Explore the world of volunteer travel and book your trip today.