Friday Global Giving: I Need a (Volunteer) Vacation

I’ve always been told that when I give back, I have three resources I can share: time, talents, and treasure. While it’s great to support organizations and ministries through donations, there is nothing more influential than actually digging in with your own two hands and helping a worthy cause. If you search blogs, you’ll find a number of people who have given up time from work to serve in a community at home or abroad. Some of my favorites include:

  • Partners for Peace – a husband and wife duo serving with the Peace Corps in Ecuador
  • Soulshine Traveler – a woman who left her job to volunteer in Latin America and Russia for the past year
  • Clearing Customs – a recently returned missionary figuring out the transition back into American life

Unlike these great bloggers, unfortunately I am not in a place in life where I can go abroad for a long period of time and serve, but I do have some vacation time. This is where the volunteer vacation comes in. Whether you go with a religious organization or a secular non-for-profit, there are some incredible ways to get back abroad and serve. Volunteer vacations are ideal for young professionals, families with elementary through high school aged kids, recent retirees, and really just about anyone. As I’ve worked with students to help them figure out their “beyond study abroad” experience, here are some of the organizations that I think provide quality and culturally conscious volunteer vacation opportunities:

  • Global Volunteers: one of the pioneering organizations of volunteer vacations, this organization  is ideal for the volunteer who may only have a week off from work.
  • GlobeAware: another good org providing week-long volunteer vacations working in schools, teaching English, building, and skill training. Some project sites include Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and Cambodia.
  • World Teach: based at Harvard University, this organization sends volunteers to teach English around the world. This is a great option for college students and teachers as there is a commitment over the summer.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions: this organization has both short and long-term volunteering options. Check out Soulshine Traveler’s blog for details on her experience with this group.

My senior year of college, I went with a group to Slovakia to work at an English activity camp for high school students. I gave up most of my winter break to be there but in return have wonderful memories and friends from the experience. As you start to plan you 2013 vacation plans, keep a volunteer vacation in mind.

Me in Presov, Slovakia with one of the Slovak students


10 thoughts on “Friday Global Giving: I Need a (Volunteer) Vacation

  1. brettdparry

    Reblogged this on GlobalWonderer and commented:
    I reckon this is a great example of how you can engage in a cpouple of different passions. Travel, volunteering, international study and indeed serving those in need. What’s your thoughts?

  2. Craig

    Thanks, Elise, for including my blog in your list and for the kind words. I just happened to be clicking around and saw it. I hope your volunteer vacation works out. Blessings, Craig

  3. Loving Language

    Oh, man. You read my mind. I’ve been thinking so much about how to volu tnteer travel abroad. Right now, I can’t leave my job. The job is up after 8 months or so. Then I could find another job–or take off for a few weeks. I’m thinking a lot. I met a guy who teaches in Russia for short spurts every couple of months. I’m thinking of going with him some time. I speak Russian and have expertise in the area he teaches in. We’ll see!

  4. Natalie

    This is a really good idea! I know vacations are typically thought of as “get away from doing anything” trips, but I feel like helping someone else would be exceptionally rewarding!

    1. eliseblalock Post author

      Agreed! Instead of coming back from vacation 5 pounds heavier and sunburned, you come back feeling like you’ve learned something and helped others. From my experience, it is exceptionally rewarding.


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