After a recent visit to East Africa, TCB Ambassador/Co Founder, Cha recounts her desire to promote the use of travel beyond leisure and shares the new trend for millennials in the travel industry … volunteering.
There is this feeling that hits your soul after visiting such places like Tanzania, India and Haiti. I became conflicted yet motivated, with trying to figure out how I can help people in need during my visit, and I’d imagine that this is what the founders of the startup search engine. Visit.Org must have felt when they created their nonprofit global website. Visit.Org gives its users that opportunity to book travels through volunteerism in mind, FIRST !
In the beginning, my perspective on travel has been somewhat one-dimensional and has definitely evolved overtime. The importance of exploring the different elements of the travel industry, especially volunteerism, is a key part of the Visit.Org’s model. Tourism itself is a multi- billion dollar industry with vast traveling styles that caters to all types of people. To merge the two lifestyles, volunteerism and tourism, VolunTourism, is where Visit.Org provides its expertise and intermediary solutions for individuals and businesses to coexist for the greater good. Below you will learn more about how they play a progressive role in today’s growing VolunTourism industry:
VolunTourism is defined as tourism in which travelers do voluntary work to help communities or the environment in the places they are visiting.
The act of volunteering while traveling is not a new concept; mission trips dates back to Roman times. VolunTourism is becoming the next best way to travel for today’s youth as more young travelers, globally, seek a new adventure, traveling to remote destinations, and capturing meaningful memories throughout their journeys.
Visit.org is an online marketplace that allows travelers to book “off-the-beaten-track” tours and activities directly from nonprofits and community-based projects around the globe. Their concept is a web-based marketplace that allows individuals and groups to book full immersion experiences internationally. The purpose is to raise awareness and increase revenues for local causes, which goes directly to help local organizations and businesses.
Founder and CEO, Michal Alter, has a goal to host 20,000 experiences by the year 2020. The Culture Bazaar met Alter during the NY Travel Show held in April, where she did a presentation of her startup. We recognized the unique mission that we both shared; connecting people through cultural immersion, and look forward to working together in the near future.
Examples of Visit.Org’s immersion trips vary from Investours, linking travelers to small business owners in Tanzania, as they learn about economic development and micro-financing while taking in the local culture. Or spending the day caring for rescued elephants with Elephantworld in Thailand where their goal is to raise awareness of Asian elephant abuse, helping to give them a safe place to live.
During a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Cha spent some time supporting the local art scene learning Argentinian history, politics, and culture by way of street art/ wall murals. She participated in a group tour with GraffitiMundo. This highly recommended experience was the highlight of my time in B.A.
GraffitiMundo is one of the many tours featured on Vist.org which tells the story of its people BY its people. The tour guides are local, Portianos, and so are the artisans, the graffiti murals transform you as if you are reading hieroglyphics on temple walls in Egypt. It is easy to become strongly sympathetic as you learn about the injustice of its people. The art forces you to feel compassion for these underprivileged communities. In this environment, quickly recognized that this is not a place for your typical tourist and if not for this tour, no one probably would visit; the street art is for the people of Argentina yet a sense of pride is also shown through the art and leaves you with a feeling of hope for this community and unity for Argentina.
Visit.Org is on the tail end of their Indiegogo campaign in which they are seeking $15,000 to fund their marketing efforts to help solve the problem of connecting these unique tourism experiences to the masses. We want to wish them best of luck on their fundraising journey and ask that you participate by supporting their efforts.
Voluntourism is definitely the way to travel for those willing to expand upon their experience, beyond the typical vacation and do it on a budget. Thanks to organizations like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), budget travelers who are not afraid of a little hard work in exchange for shelter can get great lodging around the world for the cost of reasonably good priced country specific membership fee. Recently USA Today posted an article geared to the same audience “19 Places you can WWOOF if you are feeling lost after graduation.” TCB Ambassd0r, Maya, shares her experience while WWOOFing in Greece.
WWOOFing has always been on my list of things to do during my travels. It is an awesome way to actively be involved in the places you visit. You have the opportunity to learn a new skill, possibly practice a language, and interact with other travels. Last year, I WWOOfed in a small town outside of Athens, Greece called Spata at a family organic vineyard called Georgas, Family Organic Grape products. The Vineyard is run by Demitris, who’s great grandfather started the vineyard and it had been passed down from generation. They pride themselves in keeping the wine making process as organic as possible, and make many products from grapes such as juices, grape cookies,wine and grape vinegars, and grape water.
I spent 1 week WWOOFing at Georgas and it was an enriching experience. I arrived just after the grape harvest so I worked primarily on the packaging of new batches of wine that were ready, and making sure the vineyards were well kept by picking weeds, and just learning more about the wine business in Greece.
It was very laid back, I worked around 4-6 hours a day then I had the rest of the day and weekend to explore.Typically the amount of work and duration you can WWOOF really depends on your host, and the demand of work they need done. Most host are looking for volunteers for 2 weeks or more, and it is a great way to travel if you’re planning to stay in a city for a couple months. The possibilities are endless of the types of farms WWOOFing is partnered with. You can find some really cool projects that don’t necessarily have to do with farming such as sustainable development projects, helping to renovate ecological sites, down to working on an animal farm. I would definitely recommend checking out WWOOFing for your next adventure.
Voluntourism is an easy decision for your next trip. Volunteering as means of seeking uncharted experiences and rising above your comfort levels to serve the world is self rewarding and is a step towards breaking down barriers and creating unity through culture exchange which is the The Culture Bazaar motto.