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Travel Tip: What You Need to Know Before Volunteering Abroad

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tourismA big trend has been to give back to local communities during travel by volunteering abroad.

But it’s your responsibility to vet the project before you sign on.

The problem with voluntourism is that it may not be as helpful as you think.

Unskilled volunteers who can’t contribute in meaningful ways can cause more work in the long term.

Avoid short-term volunteering with young children in schools and orphanages.

This is especially critical with kids who have gone through traumatic experiences—if you’re only there for a short time and then you disappear, it can cause more harm than good.

Before you participate in any volunteer experience, ask questions like:

  • Are the organizers actually on the ground or are they a clearinghouse for many programs? If so, how have they vetted the local groups?
  • How long has the program been in the destination?
  • Can they show you concrete benefits from previous projects?

Always ask if you can speak with someone who has been on the program. If they say no, consider that a big red flag.

To learn more about voluntourism opportunities around the world, check out:

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