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Travel Planners

Travel Planners have the challenging task of satisfying a group of individuals. That's right, a group of individuals, which seems almost oxymoronic in nature. Corralling individual desires, goals, and expectations under the moniker of "The College of ...," or some other type of affinity group provides the travel planner with plenty of ammunition to sprout gray hairs. But could VolunTourism be the "Holy Grail" for those whose livelihood depends on the power to negotiate a compromise amongst such varying temperaments?

There may be as many VolunTourism programs around the world as there are colleges & universities; what type of program will best suit your audience?

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An Overview

It may sound like a take off on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," but you want to make certain that you identify programs that do not represent an extreme in any one element of the itinerary - particularly as it relates to the voluntary service aspect. You want the service projects to be...

  • Not too short, nor too long
  • Not too strenuous, yet strenuous enough
  • Not too hot, but not too cold, etc.

Identifying a project that will fit well within the parameters of the desires of your clientele, therefore, is fundamental to your success. Likely you will outsource the logistics of these trips to either nonprofit organizations or tour operators - depending upon such things as:

  1. Whether you want your travelers to benefit from potential tax advantages. (Such advantages may or may not be available depending on your country of origin and the tax codes applicable there.)
  2. How much liability you want to assume (Tour operators, for instance, may have more robust insurance payouts and coverages than nonprofits.)
  3. How much of the experience will be focused upon volunteering vs tourism (This may be determined by the institution you represent - religious & sectarian colleges, for example, may lean more toward service, whereas public institutions may focus more on travel & tourism elements.)
  4. Whether you are trying to target your VolunTourism initiative to a younger alumni contingent or a more mature alumni market (Nonprofits may be the preference of younger alumni whereas the mature audience may prefer the tour operator.)

When you feel that you are clear about what you want, you may decide to review the VolunTourism programs of other colleges and universities. The University of California Berkeley is setting an example as a public institution advancing this approach. Notre Dame is a good example of a sectarian school that is engaging in this type of travel.

Once you have selected a VolunTourism program that you feel will meet the goals and objectives of your travelers, you are ready to explore how to address trip preparation, implementation, and evaluation & modification of the adventure. These are things with which you are already familiar and should have no difficulty in incorporating the service elements into the evaluation process.

For additional resources, look to archives of The VolunTourist and other sections of this website. Should you have in-depth questions about how to approach VolunTourism as a Travel Planner, feel free to contact us.

THE VOLUNTOURIST - Past Webcast for Travel Planners

Advice On Multigenerational & Family VolunTourism - 24 March 2009


The growing number of families and inter-generational groups participating in voluntourism has operators wondering how best to create itineraries and programming that will support the wide variety of interest. Here are some thoughts from three women who are involved in multi-generational travel:

1) What are some of the key elements of multi-generational & family travel?

2) When planning voluntours for multi-generational groups, what advice would you give to tour operators & NGOs?

3) What should voluntourists keep in mind if they decide to plan their own multi-generational voluntours?

Guests addressed these topics and discussed others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Cheryl Delisle, Manager of Generations Touring Company; Kyle McCarthy, Co-Founder of Family Travel Forum; and Ellen Regenstreif, PhD, Founder of Child Tours.

Eco & Sustainable Lodges & VolunTourism - 2 December 2008


(1) What are the characteristics of eco- & sustainable lodges?

(2) What are some of the VolunTourism initiatives that eco & sustainable lodges are addressing in their neighboring communities and villages?

(3) How can VolunTourists play an active role in supporting the development of more VolunTourism efforts in conjunction with eco & sustainable lodges in destinations around the world?

Guests addressed these topics and discussed others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Phill Klamm, President, Wrestling The World; Charles Motley, Founder, Chachapoyas Tours; Jeff Pzena & Holly Masek, of Cotton Tree Lodge, LLC.

Educational Travel & VolunTourism - 16 October 2007


Educational Travel has its roots in alumni travel programs throughout North America and around the world. In recent years, it has been viewed as an extension of Service Learning for college and university students - part of the "life-long" learning process for alumni. Can VolunTourism play a role in forging a stronger bond between these two very distinct groups conjoined under a common institutional roof? Guests address these topics and discuss others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Cast] (Click Here To Download)


J Mara DelliPriscoli, Educational Travel Conference; Jim Friedlander, Academic Arrangements Abroad; and special guest, Susan Welsh, Elderhostel.


Suggested Readings From The VolunTourist Newsletter

VolunTourism In The Middle East: Launching The Abraham Path - When we think of voluntourism, we usually think of tour operators or nonprofit organizations addressing the socio-environmental challenges of a destination - a rural village, an urban community, a coral reef. Quite often this is done in cooperation with a local grassroots organization or community effort. But, Dr. Joshua N. Weiss, some of his colleagues from Harvard University, and a growing network of global supporters have a far more robust idea in mind - to restore the roughly 5,000 km (3,000 miles) of what once served as the route of passage for Abraham and his fellow tribespeople. Are you ready to be part of a voluntourism initiative that will ultimately traverse 10 countries in the Middle East?!?

VolunTourists: 10 Things To Consider - When approaching VolunTourism experiences, whether you are a first-time or veteran VolunTourist, the most important phrase to keep in mind is this one – Gnothi Seauton – “Know Thyself.” This is not meant to imply a metaphysical exercise and a recounting of the entire inner workings of your being; in this case, what it entails is a simple understanding of two things: “What makes you tick?” and “What ticks you off?” How well you answer these will impact you and everyone else within your sphere of influence throughout your journey.

Alumni Travel & VolunTourism - In this article, Kris Jameyson, Associate Director of Cal Discoveries Travel Program, answers three questions regarding the approach her team at UC Berkeley is taking in relation to VolunTourism.

VolunTourism & M3 TRAV3L3RS - This article discusses the Millennials and the type of travel experiences that they are likely to adapt in the future, including their connection to VolunTourism.

Boomers & VolunTourism - Matt Thornhill of the Boomer Project gives some insight as to why those born between 1946 and 1964 are excellent candidates for VolunTourism.