Always wanted to volunteer, but donâ€™t feel like you have the time? This week, in a guest post, Flooglebinderâ€™s Brad Frankel explains how easy it is to turn your â€˜summer holidayâ€™ into an opportunity to volunteer and do something youâ€™re passionate about.
Havenâ€™t got the time to travel as long as youâ€™d like? Well, here are a few little tips that will help make sure your holiday is a fun-packed adventure that sates your wanderlust whilst providing self-gratification by knowing that youâ€™re giving back to this amazing planetâ€¦
I remember playing with a globe at an early age and thinking just how big the world is, and even more so how small the UK is, let alone London. I would sit there spinning it around and seeing where my finger stopped, hoping Iâ€™d get there one day.
Fast-forward to today, and Iâ€™ve been fortunate enough to travel the world twice over, but Iâ€™ve also been in situations where being away from work for a long period of time just wasnâ€™t possible.
One of the things that we all dream of are holidays: as we sit at our desk checking out Facebook photos of friends on their beautiful adventures, travelling the world on, what seems like, an endless trip. When we donâ€™t have the opportunity to travel for months on end these trips become even more precious.
Use your time off to travel â€“ and volunteer
So if you love travel but donâ€™t want to leave your 9-5 then you need to make sure that every moment of your holidays count, whether you want to sit on the beach and do nothing, trek through the Himalayas, dive in Thailand or explore new places.
Itâ€™s so easy to have the best of both worlds: the feeling of the wondering nomad but the structure to fit it into your annual leave. You donâ€™t need to quit your job; you just need to plan it well.
First, do your research
Think about the destinations that will offer you what you want, whether its activities, exploration, high-end luxury, beach shacks or remote island life. Also find out about the environments and communities that youâ€™re visiting, which is so important because if you understand the culture youâ€™ll gain so much more from the experience. Youâ€™ll also unearth some very interesting things to do and to be part of, such as volunteeringâ€¦
The effects of volunteering and sustainable travel
Tourism is a huge source of income for many cities, towns and remote villages but quite often this can have long-term detrimental affects on these communities, so ensure that you travel with a sustainable mind-set. Check out our previous blog on sustainable travel for more on this.
To help conserve these environments why not look into local volunteering opportunities where you can help by giving back to these communities, working with people or animals. How involved you get is entirely up to you, just make sure itâ€™s a programme that tackles real-life issues, not fabricated projects designed for tourists that can quite often create more problems than they solve.
A sad example of this was a turtle conservation programme that I visited in Sri Lanka. They started a turtle â€˜sanctuaryâ€™ to bring tourists in, which resulted in fisherman collecting eggs, disrupting nests, effecting nest temperatures, producing more males, and effecting the whole dynamics of a small turtle population. So, please do your research and feel free to ask us if you have any questions or concerns about upcoming trips.
Volunteering with people or animals?
Volunteering options will vary from projects with people to projects with animals so first choose who youâ€™d rather spend your morning with: a classroom full of kids or a secluded bay of turtles.
Your active participation can quite often be as effective, if not more so, than monetary donations and will not only help the projects that you get involved with but will leave you with an amazing feeling of satisfaction that you have contributed towards conserving this amazing planet.
Â Â Quick Tips
- Â Book your time off strategically. Bank Holidays are amazing to take advantage of, as quite often we can lose a day either side in transit so every day counts.
- Choosing flights. Evening flights are great. See if you can work through lunch or get out a little early and head straight to the airport from work. How nice to wake up in a new country?
- The trip. Give yourself a day or two to get settled in and understand the culture, catch up on any lost sleep and explore your destination. Sightseeing tours are a great start to any trip. Then itâ€™s time to get stuck in with your volunteer programme.
- The project. If youâ€™re on a tight budget then this is also a great way to save money, as the right programmes will often offer you free accommodation and food whilst youâ€™re there. However long you dedicate to volunteering, remember who this is for.Â Yes, it will have personal positive effects which is fine, and you should feel good about yourself as youâ€™re dedicating your time and your money to help others, but the main priority is the project, the people, the animals, the protection, the conservationâ€¦donâ€™t forget that!