The experts Your travel queries answered *Volunteer Vacations

“I have heard of volunteer vacations and am thinking of undertaking one this winter. Where would you suggest I go, and how should I plan the trip?”

STEVEN ROSE Founder and executive director Cross Cultural Solutions


ARJUN SHARMA Managing director. Le Passage to India Select Group


KIMBERLY HALEY COLEMAN Executive directo, Globe Aware  
Meaningful volunteering can be as simple as sharing love and affection with orphans. or practicing conversational English w1th adults seeking new career opportunities. We at Cross-Cultural Solutions (www. have sent over 26,000 volunteers to 12 countries since 1995. including our founding programme in India. Volunteers in Dharamsala. for example,have assisted teachers in special education. In Peru. volunteers have cared for people with disabilities. When planning, consider the region you want to explore, the type of work that interests you. and the time you can allocate.I recommend selecting an organisation that provides positive impact within the communities served.  Volunteer tourism is a great form of travel that allows you to make a difference while on holiday. When choosing a destination. your prime consideration should be the kind of volunteer work you will be comfortable with-whether it’s environmental conservation.teaching or animal welfare. Also choose a project based on the time you can commit to it you can choose to volunteer from two weeks to two months. Your options are varied. from teaching in Cambodia and volunteering at an orphanage in Goa to working With elephants in Kerala and raising lions in South Africa. Book through a reliable tour company. as travelling independently can be challenging and finding the right project difficult. The good news is that the destinations are virtually limitless. The bad news is that there are so many companies conducting volunteer tours that it’s difficult to choose one over the other. Most companies offer programmes from one to 52 weeks. With genuine need virtually everywhere narrow your options down by selecting a place to which you have never been or to which you have an attachment. In Jaipur for example, Globe Aware (www. volunteers can help children in extreme poverty with basic needs. (Other safe destinations with urgent need include Thailand. Laos and Peru). Once you’ve compiled a list review itineraries of agencies that offer such trips and contact former volunteers who have gone on their programmes for feedback before you make a decision. Reputable companies will gladly give out references. Many organised tours include the cost of food, accommodation, local transport, insurance, orientation material and a guide. Finally, know where your money is going: read up on how the organisation you pick spends its funds. Habitat for Humanity and Doctors Without Borders are two good options.   
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