At Travelzoo we’re often jumping at a flashy new hotel deal or snapping up cheap airfare for a last-minute weekend escape. And while most of us love a leisurely beach vacation now and again, some of our most significant experiences have been travel of a different genre.
I took my first volunteer trip in February with Seattle-based organization Guatemala Village Health, which brings basic health services to rural communities. I have to admit, though I have traveled to more than 20 countries in my life, I was anxious about this. I didn’t know any of the other volunteers, and my Spanish was rusty at best (not to mention, many of the people we were serving spoke traditional Mayan dialects, not Spanish).
But that anxiety for the unknown was unjustified. As it turns out, the people who volunteer overseas are welcoming, open-minded and generous; and the people who we met were extremely grateful for the help. I had the chance to experience Guatemala in a way a tourist never could.
Fellow Travelzoo staffers who have volunteered are endlessly positive about their service trips, agreeing that they have been among the most unique and formative of their adventures:
I got involved with Guatemala Village Health through a personal connection, but there is a wide variety of organizations to suit any volunteer’s interests, such as BuildOn.org and International Volunteer HQ. It’s important to do your research when selecting a trip. Pick a group whose mission you believe in, and get ready for a new type of travel; I promise you won’t regret it.
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