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Getting Started

Testing the VolunTourism waters? Not quite sure whether you want to take the plunge?

Before you do anything else, we recommend that you take the VolunTourism Survey. Whether you are new to VolunTourism or a veteran voluntourist, use the survey to gage your level of interest and to determine how best to proceed in your quest of taking your first, or next, voluntour. Take the survey>>>

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Traveler - Getting Started
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Getting Started
Trip Selection
Trip Preparation
Processing Experiences
Post-Trip
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Recommendations

If you are in a hurry, you have come to the wrong website. VolunTourism is "slow travel." The experience starts before it even begins - - with Y-O-U! "Know Thyself" is the first step in the process. If you feel like you are in tune with yourself, then you have covered more than 50% of what is required before selecting your VolunTourism Journey. If not, pay particular attention to what follows.

This is a BIG DECISION. It involves many aspects of who you are as a person - your personal preferences and aversions, your emotional well-being, your attitude, and, very likely, a sizeable financial investment.

Most significant of all, your decision impacts other people - destination residents, fellow voluntourists, the coordinators of your trip, and your friends and family. (This last group is especially important because these folks are the individuals that will hear any post-trip griping if you did not come away with what you expected.) So, make a sincere effort and realize that your service starts NOW!

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It is recommended that you do three things in order to make a determination about whether VolunTourism is appropriate for you.

  • First, you must establish the purpose of your VolunTourism experience. Why, exactly, are you planning to engage in this type of travel?
  • Second, you must assess your capabilities to determine what service(s) you may provide and how these will potentially fit within the context of programs throughout the world.
  • Third, you must ask yourself some very difficult questions and be willing to answer them - - HONESTLY!

When you have completed these three tasks, you are ready to move to the Trip Selection phase.


Establish The Purpose of Your VolunTourism Experience (P)

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Certainly, you can start this exercise by asking yourself a question similar to one of the following:

  • "Why do I want to be a VolunTourist?"
  • "Why am I doing this, really?" (Am I trying to get school credit? Am I trying to find the "fountain of middle age"?)

But this is only the beginning of discovering the purpose behind your desire to travel to another destination in order to experience the best of service, arts & culture, environment, geography, history, and recreation. And, no, it will not work to simply say that someone else told you to do so.

You have to discover the fundamental reason for departing your homestead and transporting your body to another dot on the globe. It can be very simple, of course, but you still need to know your impetus. The importance of this is to be able to adequately determine if another activity will better fulfill the purpose for which you are selecting a VolunTourism itinerary.

If, for example, you want to pad your resume, would you be better suited to take a summer job that focuses specifically on the practical applications that you need to learn in order to be more easily employed? If, for example, you need to accomplish service hours in order to graduate, would you spend less money by providing service in your hometown?

If you have always wanted to travel to a country, could you not do so and save your volunteering for another time?

In other words, make sure that your purpose manifests sound judgment and emphasizes both the practical elements as well as the fact that VolunTourism is the best option for honoring the purpose you have established.

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Inventory of Your Service Assets (A)

Likely at some point in your life, you have had the dubious "privilege" of compiling a resume or curriculum vitae. What you will do in crafting the inventory of your service assets (ISA) will be a slightly different exercise.

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In this instance, you have a chance to broaden the scope to include personal qualities and characteristics that you may not have included in your resume. For example, you may have performed a number of stints babysitting as a teenager. This would be an excellent item to include in your (ISA), especially if you plan to work with children during your VolunTourism journey.

Take your time in reviewing some of the things that you have done as a volunteer, but, perhaps, did not include in a resume. You may have been an usher at your church or temple. You may have coached your daughter's soccer team. These fit well within the framework of VolunTourism experiences because they represent tasks that you conducted as a volunteer.

Of course, you do not want to include every detail, especially those items that represent something you did only once or twice in your life. Your ISA should credit you with service that you have rendered and feel comfortable rendering again.

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The Difficult Questions (Q)

This is the toughest assignment of any that you will have to do before, during, or after your VolunTourism trip. You will have to look at yourself squarely in the mirror when you ask these questions. Honesty is an absolute necessity for this exercise; without it, you are wasting your time and effort and, quite possibly, other people's time and effort as well.

We will assume that you have asked the quintessential question at this point:

Where Do I want to go?

As for the rest, remember, you are asking yourself the following questions while looking in the mirror:

Question #1: What is my personal minimum requirement for accommodations? (For example: Do I need running water? My own bed? My own room?)

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Question #2: How much money can I truly spend to pay for a VolunTourism trip? (In other words, what can I afford to pay without being anxious during my entire trip because I spent more money than I should have?)

Question #3: How much time/percentage of my trip do I want to dedicate to volunteering and how much to travel & tourism?

Question #4: How sensitive am I to deprivation, poverty, starvation, health issues, etc.? (For example, can I mentally and emotionally process being with children who have no arms or legs, or cleft palates, or bloated stomachs from malnutrition?)

Question #5: What tolerance do I have for extremes in climate? (For example, is desert heat an issue for me? Arctic cold? Rainforest humidity?)

Question #6: What food preferences and aversions do I have? (For example, can I eat anything that is placed in front of me? Vegetarian only? Food allergies?)

Question #7: How good are my people skills in relation to travel? (For example, do I feel comfortable speaking with anyone, anywhere, regardless of who it may be? Only people I know? Do I like to travel alone?)

Question #8: What travel experience do I have? (Domestic? International? None?)

Question #9: What volunteer experience do I have? (Helping your brother or sister with his/her homework does not count!)

Question #10: What voluntary service would I like to perform? (You may not have a preference, but by asking this question, you will know if you do.)

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Conclusion

Once you have determined where you want to travel and have answered the above 10 Questions, you should be able to combine these with your Purpose and your Assets and be ready to move to the next step of this process - Trip Selection.

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