Hanoi, Vietnam – Voluntourism. The word and the concept – to volunteer while on holiday abroad – has the world of travel abuzz and the world of non profits seething. Open any Lonely Planet travel guide, and you’ll probably come across at least a small section on how to volunteer while vacationing to gain a more “real” experience with the country’s culture and people. Go on a travel forum discussing voluntourism and you would think the world is coming to an end because some kid on his or her gap year wants to travel and volunteer. Considering I’ll be voluntouristing (not sure if that’s word, but I’m running with it) in Vietnam, I thought I would share my thoughts, viewpoint, and expectations on the eve of my start date and see how they change by the end of my time here.
On June 17, 2012 I leave for a 5 month trip around the world. Here’s the itinerary, which I think is insanely awesome. Since the question has already come up, I planned the whole trip myself and I’m using airline miles and hotel points wherever I can to cut down on cost (shameless plug: You can check out my travel resources page to see what sources I used to book everything). As for selecting the locations, it was a combination of where the volunteer programs are located, different small group trips I’ve wanted to take for awhile, and filling in the blanks with other locations and things I’ve always wanted to visit. My goal is write 2-3 blog posts per week to keep everyone updated on life on the road – and to let me parents know that I’m still alive. If anyone has suggestions on things to see and do along the way, feel free to share in the comments below.