A voluntourist help a child with her reading and writing skills at a school in Belize.

What is voluntourism?

Become part of ongoing efforts to support sustainable development while exploring a new country and culture

A combination of volunteering and tourism, voluntourism is a popular form of international travel that allows you to contribute to sustainable development while exploring a new country and culture. Voluntourism is a similar experience to volunteer travel or a volunteer vacation. Many people find that doing volunteer work while also participating in tourism is a great way to get the best of both worlds. 

Two voluntourists work together to prevent coastal erosion in Thailand by planting mangroves.

Voluntourism Opportunities: More than just combining volunteering and sightseeing

As a voluntourist abroad, you will be best placed to discover a new country and explore its unseen side, learn about the culture first-hand, and play a vital role in the community.

When they are abroad, most of our volunteers live with local host families. So in addition to the worthwhile work you do at your project, you will also experience a depth of cultural immersion and exchange which is impossible for typical tourists. Your host family will welcome you into their home and help you become part of the community, sharing their daily lives and customs with you. Some volunteers have even found themselves celebrating birthdays and weddings with their host families! Many former volunteers also keep in touch with their host families after they return home, and some return to visit.

When you choose to join a voluntourism programme, you are also joining a global network of volunteers who are living and working with diverse cultures on projects that have a positive impact. Our volunteers come from all over the world, and you will find that most of them will share your passion for giving back and your desire to broaden your horizons.

Voluntourists visit the small business they helped a local man build with the support of Projects Abroad.

How does voluntourism benefit the community?

There are a number of ways that voluntourism can benefit local people:

  • When you contribute to a well-run and sustainable volunteer project, you are helping to implement long-term development. Use your skills, time, and energy to make a difference that will last long after you have returned home. By helping a local teacher improve their English and classroom skills through a Teaching Project, you will indirectly impact the children they teach. When you help a struggling entrepreneur get their business off the ground at a Microfinance Project, you are helping support an entire family for years to come.
  • By participating in voluntourism, you are contributing to the local economy. In their free time, most volunteers take advantage of the opportunity to go sightseeing, like going on game drives and island tours. Many developing countries rely heavily on the income from tourism and voluntourism companies and volunteers support local businesses.
  • Most voluntourism companies employ local staff. This provides jobs for local people and in most cases, employees have the opportunity to receive further training and education.

Voluntourism is increasingly popular and it is extremely important to carefully research the organization you are considering traveling with. Experience, sustainability, and financial responsibility are essential to running programs that truly benefit the population. The impact on local communities is and has always been one of the core motivations of Projects Abroad since the company began in 1992.

Please take a moment to read through our history and values here, and our impact within the communities where we work.

Can't find what you're looking for?

If you would like to learn more about how you can participate in voluntourism, call us at 021 234 8002 or email info@projects-abroad.ie. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and we will work with you to plan the best possible volunteer placement!

+353 (0)1 571 5080

or email:

to start planning your project