Posted by Bridget, Citizen’s Advocacy Representative
Here at Tom’s we feel very lucky that we can use 5% of our paid work time to volunteer for a favorite nonprofit, but we realize that not everyone has this option. What do you do when a forty-hour workweek and personal obligations leave you with a lack of time to volunteer? A service trip, or “volunteer vacation” could be the answer.
Service trips allow participants to volunteer full time, on a limited term basis, in locations all around the world. Organizers include Sierra Club, Global Volunteers, Globe Aware and Earthwatch.
Deciding which trip is the best fit for you is like a ‘choose your own adventure’. You could help establish an access trail to rock art in Southern Utah, care for at-risk babies in their homes in China, or help with sustainable food production in Cuba.
For me, the idea of working outside in a warm climate is most appealing. Globe Aware organizes one week trips to Thailand where workers help to preserve the native elephant habitat by planting food crops and shade shelters. With temperatures here in Maine currently hovering around zero, I’m sold.
You’ll need to consider your available vacation time, and whether you want a program that allows time to play tourist or one where you get down and dirty for the entirety of the trip. Some programs have intense time tables, while others allow full days for relaxation and exploration.
Of course, while volunteering your time may pay you in karma, it does not pay for your vacation. Service trip prices range from $500 to around $2,000 and usually do not include the transportation required to arrive on site. You’ll need to decide whether this is a budget friendly option for you before committing your time to the cause.
If you were going to take a service trip vacation, what location would you want to go to, and what issue would you like to help address?