Last month I did my first “voluntourism” trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti! Voluntourism is exactly what it sounds like, a trip where you plan on volunteering your time and services. Typically when you hear about a trip like this, most people think of Africa or deep in the villages of Asia but you can really do a trip like this anywhere. After all, people are in need in every country.
I was excited to take my first trip to Haiti to volunteer with BlackCelebrityGiving.com. I learned so much about myself and it made me want to amp up my volunteering in the states as well.
Voluntourism is a great thing! Giving back in another country is an amazing experience. For me, I love travel so what better way to give back while exploring a new country and culture.
Here are some key tips and suggestions when you go on a Voluntourism Trip
What To Pack
Know where you are going to be. Research the country. If you are going to a place that has alot of crime, keep the designer bags and nice jewelry at home. Even if it’s costume jewelry and looks real, you don’t want to be a target.
Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. This is not the time to be cute. If you are going to work, you will be sweating and you’ll want to move around swiftly. Bring light weight clothes that you can sweat in. There will be sweat!
Tip: Always check with the country you are visiting. Some countries for example you can’t wear camouflage. If they catch it, you can get arrested or they will just confiscate it. So just double check if there are any do’s and don’ts
When you get to a place where you will be servicing, don’t compare their lifestyle to yours. Remember, if someone doesn’t have electricity and never did, they have learned to work with that. We can’t ask why they eat certain things or do anything where it’s a comparison of our lifestyle. It’s just not cool.
Capturing the moment
Don’t go if you are just looking for some photos for your Facebook or IG feed. Do it because you really want to. When at the orphanage in Haiti, there were several kids that did not want to take pictures…this is probably due to the fact that they realize alot of tourists come down, spend a day with them and take pictures of little brown kids to make them feel good about themselves.
When I see those awkward images of kids who clearly don’t want to be held in pictures, it’s kind of sad. So again, don’t do it for the high-fives you’ll get on Facebook. Do it because your heart is in it. You, in fact, should be so busy that you don’t have time to take a ton of pics. Pics are okay of course, but limited, and always ask the kid if it’s okay.
She asked me to take a pic with her, so I thought this was cute!
Have fun! Yes you are going to give back, but do have fun. If you are working at an orphanage, play games, paint, enjoy!
If you are going to a place with adults, learn something new. Ask them about their culture or take some time to learn their language. I took this trip as a learning experience. I learned a new culture and got to have some fun.
Have patience. When you are in another country helping out, everything is not going to happen on time. Don’t get upset or complain. If you are on a voluntourism trip, you want to keep a positive outlook. It makes everything much better. Things aren’t going to happen like they would in America (see ethnocentrism above) but don’t get bent out of shape. Patience is key when volunteering 🙂
Are you planning on going on a voluntourism experience?