If we think back to some of our most memorable experiences on the HoneyTrek…teaching English to the ladies of the Red Dzao tribe, working on an organic farm in the mountains of Japan, aiding an art class in a Rio de Janiero favela…we realize these were all volunteer experiences. The work we did and the people we met touched us in more ways that even the greatest historic sites or the most intense adrenaline-fueled activity ever could. We recommend everyone volunteer during their travels, but it’s important to choose your program wisely. There are a lot of bogus voluntourism agencies out there, so it’s crucial to work with companies that have a good track record in the community and are creating sustainable projects that will succeed long after the volunteers are gone.
One organization that is a shining example of volunteer travel and one we are proud to be partnered with is World Expeditions. They’ve been offering sustainable adventure tours around the world since the 1970s, and in 2005 they thought…”What if we took our two-week tours and dedicated 3-4 days to helping a community?” The impact would be tremendous and their non-profit Community Project Travel (CPT) was born. Working directly with the leaders of communities in need, they have created projects that will have the most positive and lasting effects. World Expeditions isn’t looking to rapidly expand CPT around the world, instead they have pinpointed a handful of regions and are looking to invest in these communities for real change.
If you are looking to take an adventure-packed vacation, and make a difference along the way, check out these four sustainable trips:
TANZANIA: Kakoi School Kindergarten Classroom
Go on safari in the world-renowned Serengeti, immerse yourself in Masai culture then give back to the area by building a new kindergarten for the under-served village. The overcrowded Kakoi elementary school is in desperate need of a new kindergarten classroom but with the funds from World Expedition Foundation and your hard work, you can serve the developmental needs of the local children. Painting walls, installing new blackboards, building furniture, constructing teaching aids and preparing the room to give these kindergarten students a brighter future. This 13-day trip is bound to be unforgettable.
Read more about this Serengeti trip.
VIETNAM: Thanh Son Elementary School & Kindergarten Upgrade
In a Muong village southwest of Hanoi, you will help renovate a school and give these children an environment to thrive in. The most recent volunteers worked alongside locals to build a lunchroom and kitchen for the kids, while the fall 2015 project is to construct a gravel road to ensure children can safely get to school, and the spring 2016 project will renovate three of the existing classrooms. Following the community project work, you will explore the stunning national parks that surround Mai Chau, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay and the vibrant cities of Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City during this 15 day trip.
Read more about this Vietnam trip.
AUSTRALIA: Larapinta Town Camp Bush Tucker Garden
Trek Australia’s renowned multi-day Larapinta Trail and pay respect to its aboriginal owners by volunteering at the Yarrenyty-Arltere Learning Centre. It’s medicinal herb program is in need of volunteers to construct garden beds, plant traditional herbs, fruits and vegetables, and build seating within the garden to preserve this tradition of natural healing. Departing from Alice Springs, this four-day trek, plus two-day community project is an impactful way to experience Australia’s aboriginal lands.
Read more about this Larapinta trip.
NEPAL: Earthquake-damaged Schools
CPT has been sending volunteers to improve schools across Nepal for years, but in light of the recent earthquake and requests from past World Expeditions travelers, they are working with the World Expeditions staff in Kathmandu to identify where help is needed most. Two projects that have been earmarked for 2015-2016 (among a dozen in development) are Kshamawati Secondary School in the Dolakha District and the Manju Shree Primary School in lower Solu Khumbu. Help provide earthquake relief, restore much-needed tourism, and also experience the unshakable beauty of the Himalayas and the resilient spirit of the Nepalese.
Read more about the Nepal trips.
For an example of a Community Project Travel program in action, watch this video and check-out CommunityProjectTravel.com for their latest initiatives. We hope you will consider volunteering during your upcoming travels!