Travel Inspiration On the Pages of ‘The Voluntourist’

I’ll start by asking you to look past the title of this book by Ken Budd. I realize that there are a lot of opinions on the word ‘voluntourism’. I believe there are great as well as not-so-great ways to volunteer while traveling. So, I encourage you to thoroughly research an organization and experience before signing up for it!

That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone considering volunteer travel. It’s the author’s account of how the sudden loss of his father as he approached his own 40th birthday spurred a search for his purpose in life. This search took him on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth around the world as he deals with not only the loss of his father but the realization that he and his wife will likely never have children.

Budd is Humble & Light-Hearted

The author humbly explains his first volunteer experience supporting the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Just months later, with the support of his wife, he left to work at an elementary school in Costa Rica. When he still hadn’t overcome his grief, he set out to volunteer in four more countries including China, Ecuador, Palestine and Kenya.

What I loved about the book is that each experience is so different that it feels like a series of short stories in a series with the same protagonist. Budd is very light-hearted and honest about his own journey, both in dealing with his grief but also in learning how to adapt to these new environments.

RELATED POST: Organization: RAKLife, A Non-Profit

My Experience Volunteering While Traveling

As I wrote about in this post, prior to my first volunteer travel experience, I too was looking for something different. After traveling for many years, I wanted something more purposeful and connected to a people and place. I had not experienced a loss like the author did, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my career. I was contemplating what I wanted for my future. On a whim, I ended up in a remote village in Northern Vietnam. I have to say that was the trip on which I started to gain clarity. For some odd reason, days of shoveling concrete, moving bricks and playing with children in the heat and humidity fueled my soul to make changes.

Immediately after my trip to Vietnam, I donated 12 bags of clothing, sold ‘stuff’ I didn’t need and scheduled myself to take the GMAT exam in preparation to go back to school. Seeing how happy the people were in Xom Pung were with so little was so impactful to me. I had a new lens with which to view my own world.

Now, a year and a half later, I am a full-time student, aspiring blogger, and feel more alive than I have in years! If even a little piece of you has interest in volunteering while traveling; read this book, do your research and just go. You won’t regret it.

This is not a sponsored post. This opinions presented are those of the blog owner.

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Image of the book 'The Voluntourist' on a coffee table as part of the Travel Inspo series.

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