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New Travel Trend: Voluntourism

Now let me get this straight. You book your vacation, fly to an exotic location, plunk down your credit card to pay for rooms and meals, and then you roll up your sleeves and start working? Huh?

Well, yes, it's apparently called "voluntourism" (coined by marketing professionals, not me), and by the volume of offers I'm receiving from the tourism industry, it's catching on. People want to do something significant on their vacations to help the environment instead of lying around pools drinking strawberry daiquiris all day (I mean other people than me).

In Belize for example, the Casa del Caballo Blanco eco-resort has begun a new program with an on-premises avian rescue organization whereby guests of the hotel can help out with habitat restoration, build nest-boxes and do "general maintenance" (which from where I sit sounds like shoveling bird poop). They have special packages at Thanksgiving for people who would rather save birds than eat them.

Similarly, Washington's Rosario Resort on gorgeous, secluded Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands group will discount rates to guests who agree to put in some time clearing trails and maintaining nearby Moran State Park. The trails get beaten up by summer tourists and winter weather, and dates are set aside from now until March to sweep and restore them. The hotel even throws in a pair of work gloves and offers you their special "green" rate (whereas slackers like me only get the punitive "black" rate).

Sounds like a good way to combine travel with volunteerism. To which my wife, Mrs. Guru, says, "So why don't you volunteer to cut the grass and paint the deck? I'll give you my special green rate." Oops, gotta dash.
Drop us a line if you know of other voluntourism opportunities.

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