Posts Tagged ‘voluntourism’

‘Digital Detox’ and Other Travel Buzzwords, Defined

This article originally appeared on the VacationRoost blog. To read the original post, click here. September, 2013.

flightmareLove ‘em or hate ‘em, new travel buzzwords are always popping up. Where do they come from? Copywriters and marketers think up new ways to describe travel trends and products. Travelers share their experiences in real time, creating hashtag-worthy hybrids. Anyone can make a travel buzzword — just add a trip theme in front of the suffix -cation, fuse two words together, or make a bad pun.

Here’s a glossary of the most awesome and awful (awfsome?) travel buzzwords, illustrated by their usage in a sentence.

Babymoon noun. A honeymoon-style trip taken before or during pregnancy, as one last “grown-ups only” travel hurrah before baby arrives.

To keep reading, click here

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09 2013

Ten OTHER Trips to Take in Your 20s

As a 29.58 year old, I’ve fallen prey to a certain kind of viral article. I’m guaranteed to click on anything about 20s vs 30s. The writers over at Buzzfeed must also be pushing 30, as that seems to be a favorite topic right now. One of their latest creations is 10 Trips You NEED To Take in Your 20s.

According to this list (recapped below), it’s imperative that I do six of these in exactly five months:

1. Go on a road trip across the country with your best friends
2. Use a Eurail Pass to see Europe, preferably on your own
3. Go on a cheesy spring break (in your early 20s)
4. Lose yourself in Southeast Asia, preferably with new friends who you meet on the road
5. You should probably go to Burning Man, but if you can’t make it to Black Rock, Bonnaroo will do in a pinch
6. Go to the Himalayas and embrace your inner Beastie Boy
7. Go on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere
8. Spend a week on the beach with someone you love
9. Take a last minute trip on a train to see an old friend
10. Spend a week in Paris with a friend that you hope secretly likes you back

The do-it-while-you’re-young message here is spot on: un-tied-down early adulthood is a unique opportunity for travel and adventures. But this list doesn’t really align with my own 20s travels. Have I missed out on the essentials? Or have I just sought out something else?

For twenty-somethings like me who are looking for travel that digs a little deeper, lasts a little longer, and may be a little more enriching to yourself and to the people/places you encounter along the way, I came up with my own list:

Ten OTHER Trips to Take in Your 20s

1. Study abroad while you’re in college
As it turns out, only 1.3% of Americans study abroad in college. If you possibly can, broaden your education and prioritize a semester abroad as an undergrad.

study aborad in Central Mexico

Semester abroad in Central Mexico, age 20

2. Learn Spanish at a language school in Central America
If a semester abroad wasn’t in the cards, it’s not too late. There are other ways to spend time learning overseas. The Spanish schools in Guatemala, for example, are an affordable way to gain some language skills and some fun travel memories.

Spanish school in Guatemala

Miguel de Cervantes Spanish School in Guatemala

3. Volunteer with a non-profit in another country
Check out or search online for a chance to get involved almost anywhere in the world. Not all voluntourism, however, is created equal. Research the non-profit and know the do’s and don’s of voluntourism before you go.

Working with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala

My stint with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala

4. Work at an ecolodge in exchange for room and board
Ecolodges and other kinds of lodging can often use a hand. Propose a work exchange where your payment is room and board. There are a number of ways to trade your labor for lodging and prolong your travels through work exchange.

Finca Ixobel in Guatemala

The ecolodge I called home for five months

5. Challenge yourself to a multi-day mountain trek
Backpacking through alpine terrain teaches many lessons, like earning the panoramic views and carrying your own weight. If in a foreign country, look for non-profit trekking operators like Condor Trekkers in Bolivia.

Condortrekkers trekking in Bolivia

Trekking a pre-Columbian trail in South America

6. WWOOF your way onto an organic farm
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a way to get as close to your food source as possible — and even have a hand in producing it. The country-wide networks of host farms in Australia, New Zealand and Canada are among the most vibrant and active in the world.

farm in Vermont

Harvest time at a ranch where I worked in Vermont

7. Make your income virtual and work from anywhere
How endless are the ways to eke out a living online? Take a look around oDesk and eLance for an idea. As a digital nomad, your office is wherever you make it.

Work from anywhere. Photo by Cindy Fan

A travel writer’s “office” in Laos. Photo by Cindy Fan

8. Pursue a natural phenomenon
Great Salt Flats in Bolivia. Iceland’s Northern Lights. Glaciers in Patagonia. Sea turtles nesting in Costa Rica. Seek an encounter with nature at its wildest and most rare. It may be the beginning of a lifelong love story starring you and the planet.

Great Salt Flats of Bolivia at sunset

Great Salt Flats of Bolivia at sunset

9. Travel by bicycle across a region
The open road, reinvented on two wheels. Once you’ve toured by bicycle, car trips lose their luster and you’ll always be fantasizing about the next long ride.

Bicycle touring

Bicycle touring across Colorado, BABRAC 2013

10. Rediscover your own hometown
After the various prolonged travels that I’ve done in my 20s, I’ve found that coming home is the greatest adventure of all. I change, it changes, and there’s always something new to explore.

Summit of Mount Sherman, Colorado

Sunrise on Mt Sherman in my home state of Colorado

The carriage doesn’t turn into a pumpkin once the clock strikes 30. Deep 20s travel shapes you and becomes a part of who you are. The adventure is never over because you’ll value travel for life!

This post is July’s addition to my Ambassador series for


07 2013

The Dos And Don’ts Of Voluntourism

This article first appeared in Gadling. To read the original post, click here. August, 2012.

voluntourism--courtesy-of-world-uniteIn Juarez, Mexico, a group of American university students build houses. In Quito, Ecuador, medical professionals spend two weeks correcting cataracts – pro bono. In Kenya, handfuls of Hollywood stars try “making a difference” at orphanages. At the same time, these volunteers are having a travel experience. They stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and try to bond with locals. They are volunteer traveler hybrids known as voluntourists. Can they really see the world and save it too?

A rising tide of do-good travelers

“Voluntourism,” writes David Clemmons, founder of, “is the conscious, seamlessly-integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination with the traditional elements of travel and tourism – arts, culture, geography, history and recreation – while in the destination.”

To keep reading the original post, click here.


08 2012

How to Prolong Your Travels Through Work Exchange

This article originally appeared in The Travel Word. To see the original post, click here. February 2012.

Some travellers stay abroad for months, sometimes even years. The economics of it mystify their more stationary friends back home. People wonder, and even ask, “How do such long-term travellers keep themselves afloat?”


If you are willing to skip some of the hit-and-run sightseeing and country hopping of gotta-see-it-all travel, there’s a much simpler way to stay on budget and on the road for a long time: Take it slow, base your travels in one place and opt for a work exchange. Today, there are more and more ways for the industrious slow traveller to find work and break even.

To keep reading the original post, click here.


03 2012

Voluntourism Innovation: The Mini Grant Program at Sustainable Bolivia

This post originally appeared in TIES Your Travel Choice blog. For the original article, click here. November, 2011.

Volunteering abroad, also known as voluntourism, is on fire. More and more, all kinds of people are looking for travel experiences where they can serve the under-served, globally. Who can disagree with such noble intentions? In fact, voluntourism is often hailed as one of the most constructive forms of tourism out there.


Voluntourism Economics

Like anything new and fast-growing, voluntourism can go awry. Opportunistic travel companies commercialize what should be kept in the non-profit sector, charging voluntourists a hefty premium. NGOs use voluntourists as a fundraising mechanism, taking more advantage of their willingness to pay than their willingness to work. As voluntourism gains scale in certain destinations, it can even affect local labor markets in ways the voluntourists never imagine. Rightly so, skeptics have started blowing whistles and calling for best practices.

To keep reading the full, original post, click here.


12 2011