From "The Local Voice" stories under the "Good Actions" section of the eBook
(Source: Adventures Less Ordinary *The eBook is now available for download here.)
Free Guide to Responsible Voluntourism
Amid ongoing debate on the true intentions and impact of the voluntourism industry, two dozen influential professionals, writers and thought-leaders in responsible travel have contributed their ideas to Adventures Less Ordinary: How to Travel and Do Good (Horizon Travel Press, January 2015), a free e-guide to travel that makes a positive and sustainable impact on local communities.
"The steady rise in popularity of volunteer travel has spawned a lucrative 'voluntourism' industry of often expensive programs, many targeting free-spirited and adventure-minded young travelers. In turn, this has led to concerns over the impact of poorly-managed placements and whether certain types of programs actually do more harm than good." - Ethan Gelber, editor, Adventures Less Ordinary
Expert Advice for Mindful Travelers
Adventures Less Ordinary is an anthology of analyses and suggestions from this ensemble of experienced experts who have been working to improve the volunteer travel industry for many years. The contributors explore the merits and perils of many established voluntourism activities, and then provide practical advice to ethically-minded travelers about how to be sure of making a positive impact.
Adventures Less Ordinary examines the state of the industry and explores the potential pitfalls of which travelers should be aware. It also outlines the kinds of questions they should ask before signing up to a program, while in the field and once back at home.
For example: how do you gauge the project's impact within the host community, how do you ensure you have the necessary skills to make a difference, and how do you measure your own personal impact?
"The key questions and discussion points about community service overseas center on the relationship between the organizations, not-for-profits and NGOs. Think about any organization's funding model and long-term plans. For example, as a way to stimulate dialogue, many organizations require community co-investment when building projects. This ensures that only projects valued by the community will go ahead, ones that local people will be willing to support and of which they will eventually take long-term ownership." - Shannon O'Donnell, Founder, GrassrootsVolunteering.org (Author of the chapter "Good for Community: Service Offered Abroad Can Be Just as Powerful at Home")
#MendNotEnd: To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer?
One of the guide's many notable observations is that travelers can often have a greater impact by not volunteering at all: that a financial or material donation, fundraising drive and awareness-building exercise can be more helpful than donating unskilled time.
With the understanding that volunteering may not always be the most ethical and responsible option for travelers, and that the decision to participate in a volunteer and philanthropy travel activities should be made based on careful considerations of various issues described by Adventures Less Ordinary, it's also important to emphasize that the voluntourism sector has an enormous potential for channeling the passions and desires of responsible travelers and turning them into lasting positive impact for local communities and destinations around the world.
Many of the expert contributors to Adventures Less Ordinary are active in a wider debate about "mending, not ending" the volunteering industry. The book's presence on social media can be followed using the #MendNotEnd hashtag.
"... the answer is not to stop the voluntourism movement, as many people claim. Rather it is time for everyone to take responsibility for their actions – to do their homework and make wise choices about with whom to travel." - Christine Garde, Founder, CouldYou.org (Author of the chapter "Finding and Taking Responsibility for the One Thing That Matters")