Mother Teresa and Voluntourism? Seriously?

An article came out in the CS Monitor recently that was brought to my attention by the awesome folks at In the article the author says, “Mother Teresa faced criticism over the years from those who said the work did little to address the root causes of grinding poverty” and then links this to voluntourism and the debates that rage about whether or not we are doing good.

Another part of the article said, “Mother Teresa’s program was a precursor to VolunTourism,” says David Clemmons, founder of, by e-mail. “There was no grand, long-term commitment. The program was crafted to allow for movement and flow of volunteers. And if individuals wished to volunteer for a day or two and then go sightseeing elsewhere in Calcutta … they were free to do so. In this way, Mother Teresa was ahead of her time.”

Is having volunteers volunteer for a day or two and then go sight see as Mr. Clemmons suggests really helping anyone but travelers feel better about themselves? Is it OK to NOT have a ‘grand, long-term commitment’???

Do you think this is all a little far fetched and reaching or does it have some realism in it???

Read the full article:

Honeymooners and Voluntourism – New Article Up on CNN!

New article today up on CNN – honeymooners and voluntourism. Operators, what do you think? How is this segment growing and are you targeting this market at all when searching for volunteers?

If you’ve found the blog via CNN today and need help finding a trip shoot me an email, happy to help!

(CNN) — It’s common for newlyweds to honeymoon abroad. It’s less common for them to fix kids’ bikes during their trip — but Aaron and Kristen Berlin did just that two days after saying their vows.

The Massachusetts twentysomethings got married in October and spent five days volunteering at an orphanage in southern Thailand before exploring Bangkok, northern Thailand and Cambodia.

“We learned a lot about the culture,” Aaron Berlin said. “That was one of the great things about volunteering. We were really incorporated into the daily lives of the children and the volunteers who ran the orphanage.”

The two are examples of what some call “honeyteers” –­ newlyweds whose honeymoons double as volunteer projects. These couples not only tour distant locales but also get involved with the communities they find there.

“I think it’s just, going to Cabo is getting really old,” said Alexia Nestora, who writes the blog Voluntourism Gal. “This is a way to give back to the community and connect a bit more. Before, you had a bit of a stereotype of going out Peace Corps style. Now it’s a bit more mainstream.”

Today’s newlyweds were in college when the “volunteer boom” began, she adds. Now that they have grown up and found jobs, they want to go back.

To read the full article:

Voluntourism Film Wins Award – Is It Truly Win/Win?

A Voluntourism film recently won a ‘best of’ from – in their description it says that voluntourism is a ‘win/win’ – is it really? It should be. How can we ensure that it truly is win/win? Any best practices to share?
“Voluntourism: Why not travel for a cause? It’s a win/win situation–you help improve the world as you see it. And the bonus is, you truly are immersed in wherever you are volunteering because you take of the tourist “hat” and become part of the host community. The great thing is, many groups and organizations can set this up for you too. Take a look at these stories from inspiring volunteers who devoted their time abroad.”
Watch more travel videos at

Adventure Travel Going Mainstream (yes that includes Voluntourism)

In case you missed it GWU recently published a study showing the increase of travelers choosing adventure and volunteer vacations. Voluntourism organizations have long pushed back saying they don’t belong to the adventure travel world, the fact is no matter if you are a non-profit or a corporation if you are helping people get off the beaten track you are an adventure operator.

Only a few of you have ever gone to the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s meetings or the World Summit – it might be time to join the smart ones like Earthwatch and PEPY that have been going for years.

By Karina Ioffee

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – Adventure tourism, long considered the milieu of a small group of dare devils, is becoming more mainstream, with tourists more likely to rappel down mountains, cycle or volunteer while on vacation.

These adventurers are young, affluent and spent $89 billion last year, excluding the cost of airfare and gear, according to a study by researchers at George Washington University’s School of Business.

“You have a lot of people who want to roll up their sleeves, get involved in a culture and have a more authentic experience than just laying in the sun,” said Dr. Kristin Lamoureux, an author of the study, which was conducted with the Adventure Travel Trade Association, an industry group.

Read the full article: