Often when asked to “give to charity” we think of financial donations. Of course, charities need funds to be able to run and help those in need, but it is often more gratifying to volunteer your time and really get involved with a cause you feel strongly about instead of donating money.
One of my favorite times to volunteer in on vacation. For a number of reasons, to me there is no better time to lend a hand then when traveling. One, I actually have the time. At home I get so bogged down in my day to day routine that I often feel I barely have time to do the laundry let alone find time to volunteer.
Two, when we travel we really like to get to know a place and see more than the crowded tourist attractions. The best way to do this is get to know some locals! How do you get to know the locals? Volunteer at a local charity. You can pick up some great recommendations on where to go, when to go and what to avoid. Plus, pick up on some of those off the beaten path local gems. If your lucky you might even get invited to a local’s house to barbeque!
Three, it’s often much easier to volunteer outside theU.S.especially in places where they really need the help. You can still volunteer within theU.S.but you must plan in advance so you can provide paperwork and undergo a back ground check. When traveling abroad, it’s been as simple as seeing a sign, stopping in or sending an e-mail and volunteering right on the spot.
Four, it gives me the opportunity to thank the local community. I feel so blessed to be financially able to travel; to live in a country that allows me to leave and return with a just passport stamp, and to be welcome by other countries. We don’t realize that we have a freedom to travel that other’s do not and it’s so often taken for granted. I feel that volunteering or donating to a local cause is a small effort I can make to let the local community know how much I appreciate their warm welcome.
Five, it makes me smile. So many times I have volunteered to show love and support to another being and I end up walking away with a heart full of love and a smile that can’t be erased. Like a drug, this feeling has me hooked!
So next time you are on vacation and learn about a local organization stop in and see if you can help. Or, if you prefer, plan ahead. There are many online resources to help you find a charity located in your destination. I’ve listed some I like below:
Please let us know about your experiences and especially share any charities that you know about that would welcome the help of some vacationing volunteers!