If you enjoy travelling abroad but lack a sizeable travel budget, consider an international volunteer program.
My Personal Experience
I was introduced to Volunteers For Peace about 10 years ago by a colleague that had completed three volunteer projects in Italy. I had been travelling abroad for work and had been to quite a few countries, but I wanted an experience that would take me beyond the typical tourist activities to learn first hand the local culture.
I signed up and completed a project at a community center in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Their mission was to bring together families from both the Protestant and Catholic communities to help foster a greater understanding between the two groups that had been engaged in a bitter conflict for over 30 years. It was a two week long project in which we helped out with much needed maintenance around the center. In our downtime, our hosts took us sightseeing and made sure we got a flavor of the local life. They also explained the history of the conflict in the area and what they saw as possible ways for both sides of the conflict to coexist in peace. Our hosts were generous and fun and strove to make our experience very positive.
About Volunteers for Peace
"Volunteers For Peace offers placement in international volunteer projects in more than 100 countries including the United States. As part of the international voluntary service movement, Volunteers for Peace participants work with volunteers from at least four other countries on grassroots-identified projects to enhance local communities."
"Volunteers For Peace promotes International Voluntary Service as an effective means of intercultural education, service learning and community development. We provide projects where people from diverse backgrounds can work together to help overcome the need, violence and environmental challenges facing our planet. Our projects are truly a microcosm of a world where nations join together to improve life on our planet. They are a practical way to both prevent and resolve conflict. By participating in a voluntary service project, volunteers help sow the seeds of a better future for us all."
Affordable Travel Alternative
In addition to providing a great experience, VFP projects are very cost-effective.
A wide variety of project types are available in over 100 different countries. From yoga in India to disaster relief work to archaeological digs in Greece, VFP has projects to satisfy any area of interest.
One thing to note is that Volunteers For Peace is just a placement agency so you should do additional research on the organization hosting the project. For example, my colleague said the two of the projects in Italy were great but the third in Sicily was very loosely managed. The project I joined was extremely well run and we were very well taken care of. You can also check out testimonials and photos from other past volunteers at VFP.org.
If you have two to three weeks, want to enjoy travelling abroad and give back at the same time, I encourage you to check them out.
Mrs. Frugal is the founder of Cool to be Frugal, a personal finance and frugal living blog. She writes about her personal experience transitioning from a life filled with excess and debt to a frugally abundant lifestyle where she has learned less truly is more.
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