Voluntourism involves people from all age and social classes traveling globally to give aid to communities in need and intimately experience the culture, ASTA notes in a new media promotion of agents and travel. ”This combination of exploration and inspiration is growing in popularity, mostly due to an increase in the number and variety of opportunities now available,” ASTA says, offering tips for volunteer vacations on its consumer web site, www.TravelSense.org.
“Travelers can now impact an entire community over the course of a week or two, or even during their honeymoon if they choose. Regardless of how travelers volunteer their time and energy, they always return satisfied that they made a lasting difference in the lives of their international neighbors,” ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo said. “A volunteer vacation is a great way to give back.”
ASTA’s tips for what to expect on a volunteer vacation:
* Program fees do not cover all costs. Typically the traveler pays airfare, visas or medical and trip cancellation insurance. For those crucial components, many wise travelers turn to a travel agent. Travel agents also offer good advice when travelers consider various options.
* Be realistic - you are not going to single-handedly save a village or build a new school, but you will help.
* Trips usually last one to three weeks, depending on the location.
* People of all ages are volunteering on vacation. Expect to meet a wide range of people including families, grandparents and grandchildren, while experiencing this life-changing vacation.
* Use a travel agent. Working with a professional travel agent will open a world of volunteer possibilities. They have experience with volunteer vacation planning and will help their clients find a volunteer experience that matches their goals and budget.
“At the core of voluntourism is the desire to help others,” ASTA says. “When it comes to travel, no group of individuals understand that core principle better that travel agents, for helping others travel better, safer and smarter is what they do best. Travel agents can help set up a voluntour program, save money on airfare tickets and plan exciting adventures for the down time.” ASTA urges consumers to check out TravelSense.org’s ‘Find a Travel Agent’ search directory, or request a free trip quote online.