Why Volunteering In Thailand Can Be The Best Travel Experience

Thailand is one destination that does not really needs a reason to visit. Being regularly featured in most of the “Top Destinations to Visit” lists, its popularity in travel fraternity is not unknown. Then why should you be thinking about volunteering in Thailand? You might wonder.

Volunteering abroad is a form of traveling overseas that allows a traveler to gain experiences that are not possible on a regular holiday visit. There are things one gets to do, see, and feel that are unlikely during a regular trip.

So, what exactly are these differences? What makes a volunteer trip to Thailand better than a regular travel expedition? Here’s the answer to it all…

Living

One of the primary things that differentiates a volunteer trip to Thailand from a regular trip is the living arrangements. It varies drastically in many aspects; including style, area, facilities, and most importantly, the budget.

guest house thailandVolunteer in Thailand

  • Accommodation provided in a volunteer house placement.
  • Meals are provided at the accommodation itself.
  • Rooms allotted on same gender sharing basis.
  • Day starts fresh and early.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Living in a hotel room.
  • Have to arrange and pay for each and every meal of the day.
  • Day starts when you want it to (could be at noon as well).

While for a regular trip to Thailand, one need to do all the bookings in advance and pay for each meal and facility; for a volunteer trip, it’s a one time payment done in the form of program fee. It’s more like living in a home away from home, literally.

Networking

This is one of the most interesting differences between a volunteer travel and a regular trip to Thailand. It is known that Thailand is also denoted as The City Of Smiles, and that is for a reason. Volunteering in Thailand lets you discover that reason in its most genuine form.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • Get to interact with the natives on a much closer and personal level.
  • Get to make friends with people from across the globe while living together.
  • Get to learn a word or two of the local language.
  • Get to understand and immerse in the local culture.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Little to no interaction with the locals (unless you to stop to ask for directions).
  • Friends/family/partner (or whoever came along) are the only travel companions.
  • Get to witness the local traditions and culture, but without any insights to its roots; let alone getting to immerse yourself in it.
  • The only opportunity to learn something of the local language is either from the menu card of a local restaurant or billboards.

Local Guidance

This is a key aspect of volunteering abroad that makes the entire trip a great success. A regular holiday would certainly take you to some of the best places that your guidebook has mentioned. However, a guidebook is the result of a traveler’s findings and can provide only limited information and insights.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • A dedicated local coordinator appointed throughout the tour.
  • Recommended places to visit that one won’t find in guidebooks.
  • No need to hire a tour guide.
  • Help in making arrangements for weekend tours.
  • First point of contact in case of any problem or emergency.
  • Support and guidance throughout the sojourn.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Have to hire a local guide for each monument or tourist site.
  • Have to book your own tours and visits to tourist sites.
  • Have to rely on guidebooks for exploring.
  • Embassy is the only point of contact in case of any problem or emergency.

volunteer in thailand
Overall Experience

There are some travelers who crave for adventure, some like to explore the heritage and culture, while others just want to post those selfies to burn their friends back home. Volunteering in Thailand provides you an opportunity to experience all these things along with a few more, unmatched experiences, especially the experience of making new friends.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • Give happiness while making a difference.
  • Experience local living.
  • Learn to cook Pad Thai the authentic way.
  • Make friends with elephants.
  • Gain international work experience.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Limited adventures
  • Visiting heritage sites mentioned in the guidebooks.
  • Little to no interaction with the natives.

One volunteer travel abroad experience for me, gave me a new perceptive on life, and made me realize that this is the way I want to travel. I haven’t looked back ever since.

Dave in ThailandIf you have been to Thailand before and are planning another visit, try making it a volunteer trip this time and experience the difference yourself. And, if you haven’t been to this paradise ever, plan your visit now.

Resources for volunteering in Thailand:

Volunteering Solutions

A Comprehensive Guidebook

~ By guest blogger, Dave Dronacharya. Dave is a full time travel writer/blogger. His passion for traveling got him into the habit of writing, which soon turned into a profession. He writes and shares his personal experiences and facts in his articles with only one objective in mind; motivating others as well to travel as much as they can. His work is published on The Huffington Post, SocialEarth, VolunteersMagazine, and Cultural Trip. Follow Dave on Twitter

From Traveler to Change Maker

In July 2015, my husband and I headed to Rwanda, a country that suffered one of the worst genocides the world has ever seen – more than 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. We met a small group of women there that were living in terrible conditions and had faced the most unimaginable circumstances. Many are victims of rape, are widowed, orphaned and lost children of their own. These women inspired us to do something drastic.

M&A Rwanda

To give a clear picture of the whole story of how we ended up in Rwanda, let me first rewind to November 2014, during our first trip there, a journey we were inspired to embark on after spending the last 14 years traveling around the world. A writer and a photographer duo, we took the time to deeply connect with many fascinating people we met along the way and to learn more about incredible cultures we came to love. We saw the juxtaposition between wealthy and poor and it gave us that unsettled feeling of enjoying something that was only available to those who could afford it.

As travelers, it is important to us to leave the planet a better place. Our journeys abroad brought a richness to our life that no material object ever could. So we thought – why not return this good to the world and pay it forward?

So back to that drastic life-changing thing we did.

Last year, we launched Humanity Unified International, a nonprofit organization that empowers communities to rise above poverty through education, food security programs and economic opportunities. We started by investing in women.

Humanity Unified International

I gave up all my opportunities to earn an income through my online magazine to focus solely on building the organization and our current project in Rwanda. For the past year, my life has been completely dedicated to serving and empowering the women involved in our project.

Humanity Unified International

Now when my husband and I travel, we spend our time doing something meaningful and impactful in Rwanda. We’ve chosen to work with a local NGO that is leading a women’s farming cooperative project with us. Our approach to sustainable development lies within investing in local organizations and stepping away from our own ideas and beliefs of how things should be or what development should look like from a Western perspective. We trust our partners and we know that they put the needs of the community first.

As a travel writer, I knew I could write stories to help spread awareness about the work we are doing with Humanity Unified Int’l. I’ve been sharing our story with people all over the world in hopes that it will inspire those drawn to our mission to get involved and to come together in making this planet a kinder, gentler, fairer place for the good of humanity.

Become part of our story of empowerment. Learn more at humanityunified.org

 

~ By Maria Russo, writer, editor and co-founder of Humanity Unified Int’l, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty through education, food security programs and economic opportunities. Follow Maria on Twitter @MariaCultureist

Today is Georgia Gives Day

GAGives_LogoOur lives have all been touched by a nonprofit, whether it’s the hospital we were born in, the schools that educate us, the parks and arts we enjoy or the animal shelter where we found our best friend.

You can make your community a safer, happier and better place to live by donating to the nonprofit that means the most to you. The mission of Go Eat Give to raise awareness of different cultures globally and locally through travel, food and community service. We organize Destination Dinners, Cooking Classes and Volunteer Vacations showcasing communities that live in our own backyards. We depend on the support of volunteers and donors LIKE YOU to sustain our organization.

Cooperative farm in Cuba
Cooperative farm in Cuba

Let’s all give back on November 13, 2013 to Go Eat Give on Georgia Gives Day!

  • $25 – Sponsor Atlanta high school students at a Destination Dinner to increase their cultural awareness
  • $50 – Purchase equipment to support sustainable cooperative farming in Cuba
  • $100 – Contribute towards construction of toilets in village schools in Indonesia
  • $500 – Sponsor an underprivileged family to go on a Go Eat Give trip
Teachers toilet in Bali village school
Teachers toilet in Bali village school

FAQs

What is GA Gives Day?
On November 13th, thousands of people across Georgia will raise as much money as possible in a 24-hour period for nonprofits through the website.

The mission of Georgia Gives Day is to inspire individuals to donate to participating nonprofits through GAgivesday.org with the goal of raising as much money as possible within a 24-hour period.

How does it work?
GAgivesday.org makes donating easy by organizing hundreds of nonprofits across the state onto one website, providing the information people need to select a cause, and enabling online donations by credit card or e-check.

How do I donate?
It’s easy! Simply visit our profile page and make a donation via credit card or echeck. Every penny counts when we are giving back into our nonprofits that make our state beautiful and a wonderful place to live.

Once you’ve selected a cause and made your donation, tell your friends by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or the outlet of your choice.

When is Georgia Gives Day?
Georgia Gives Day will take place on November 13, 2013.

Can I only give on November 13th?
Although November 13th has been named Georgia Gives Day and the mass media campaign will focus on this day, GAgivesday.org will function as an ongoing, year round giving platform. You can give any time!

GAgivesday.org will function and accept donations year round, with an emphasis placed on November 13th.

Who is involved?
Georgia Gives Day is a collaboration of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits in partnership with participating nonprofits, corporations, associations, foundations and public relations and advertising firms.

Georgia Gives Day involves hundreds of nonprofits throughout the state that support a wide variety of causes.

Adding Charity to the Vacation Packing List

Our mission at Go Eat Give is to tie travel with giving back to the community. While volunteering is one of the ways to do so, here is another great opportunity to make a small difference wherever you go. Posada Amazonas Lodge, one of three accommodations under the directive of Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions, has partnered with Pack for a Purpose that encourages travelers to carry with them five pounds of school or medical supplies that can make a difference to communities they’re visiting. Continue reading “Adding Charity to the Vacation Packing List”

Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

The flight to Tanzania was long. It began on June 19th and I finally arrived the afternoon of June 21st.  Katyann picked me up at the airport, then we got Alexa and Kelly, before heading to Moshi.  We spent the day walking around Moshi, meeting up with some other climbers, and had a fabulous meal at the Union Cafe before retiring back to our hotel for the night. Continue reading “Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 2)”

Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 1)

For years I had the desire to travel abroad and volunteer, but it wasn’t until 2010 I took the leap and finally did it. I chose to volunteer through a non-profit organization called Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS), and I chose Morocco as my first volunteer country.  Continue reading “Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 1)”

Tam’s cafe for the hearing impaired



Another inspirational story of voluntrourism comes from an American chef in Vietnam. Chef Robert Danhi, a former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and author of the cookbook Southeast Asian Flavors, leads culinary tours to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. After a few visits, Robert contemplated doing more for the country that has nourished his mind, body and soul, and find a way to give back to the people of the country.  Continue reading “Tam’s cafe for the hearing impaired”

Rooms for Good

Your next vacation can help a wounder warrior. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service men and women. The organization provides direct programs and service tailored to meet the needs of families impacted on or after 9/11. Now you can also help contribute to this important cause and enjoy a fun getaway at the same time.

photo courtesy Gaylord Opryland

Gaylord Hotels has started a Rooms for Good program in partnership with WWP where the hotel will donate 10% of proceeds from booking the special packages in May and June 2012.

If you have not been to the Gaylord Opryland, it is a must visit destination. Read my previous post about the resort.

The Rooms for Good packages start at $179 per couple and includes 1 night stay and breakfast for 2. Special military packages start at $139 per couple. You can chose any of the Gaylord locations – Washington DC, Orlando, Nashville or Dallas. Click here to make a reservation.

Kilimanjaro and the Maasai

On June 24th, I will begin a 6 day climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. The purpose of my climb is to raise money for the O’Brien School for the Maasai, and a women’s group that operates out of a room in the school.

The O’Brien School for the Maasai is a non-profit organization that gives the children in the village the chance to receive an education and a hope for a future.  The school was started by Kellie O’Brien a native of Chicago after meeting one of the Maasai men, who told her how much they needed a school for the children in the village. A year later the school was complete. Each year the school expands, and they are hoping to continue the school growth to allow even more children to receive an education.

Not only are the Maasai children benefiting from The O’Brien school for the Maasai but the Maasai women are as well. These women fight on a daily basis for their right to exist as an equal in their communities.  Money raised will help these women start innovative, sustainable projects that will benefit the women in their village.  Supplies  to help them sew, bead and do numerous other crafts will be purchased with the money raised, allowing them to sell their hand made items to support their families and for many, the money will help put their children through school. Some of the money will also go back to The O’Brien School for the Maasai, providing the students with school supplies, books etc. to continue their education.

I’ve been told the Maasai people look at Mount Kilimanjaro every day and think the people who climb it are very brave, when really it’s them who are the brave ones. My struggle will only last the 6 days it will take to summit, while their struggle is a lifetime. If the money raised from my 6 day struggle can help make life a little easier for the Maasai people then I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and can leave that mountain knowing the money is going to truly deserving people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My goal is to raise at least $2500, and my first attempt at fundraising was Sunday when I hiked with friends at Tunica Hills in Louisiana. My friend & co-worker Richard, had the idea of turning a hike into a fundraiser. Tunica Hills has 7 waterfalls, and he suggested I ask for my friends and family to sponsor me for $1 a waterfall!  I sent out letters and emails to friends and family explaining my Mount Kilimanjaro climb and my Tunica Hills hike. By hiking day, I had raised over $200!! I had not hiked much except as a kid, and I thought I was prepared for the hike, but four days later my body is still unhappy. On my hike, I was accompanied by Richard, his friend Cody, my co-workers, Virginia and Aaron, and Aaron’s girlfriend, Monica. It was overcast skies with a chance of rain.

We drove an hour or so to Tunica Hills, and began our climb down to the creek bed. I made it to the creek bed, by slipping and falling down a hill. My day began extremely muddy!  We spent most of the day walking the creek bed, climbing over random rock formations, getting our feet wet jumping from one side to the other. Climbing through the creek was tough, since it had rained so much the days before making the ground extremely slippery.  We were only able to see 5 of the 7 waterfalls due to the weather.

After seeing the final waterfall, we made our journey back to the car, but decided to take a different route through the actual trails. I quickly learned just how out of shape I am climbing up and down all those hills. It was such a great day though, hanging out with friends and being out with nature. I’m so excited to continue my training for Mt. Kilimanjaro!

To make a tax deductible donation to The O’Brien School for the Maasai on my behalf please click here.

~ By guest blogger, Leslie Vice. Leslie volunteered with Sucheta in Morocco in 2010 through Cross Cultural Solutions. She will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and volunteering at The O’Brien School for the Maasai in Tanzania this summer. 

Volunteer in Balama

Rev. Jessy Togbadoya is from a village in Liberia called Balama. He was the first individual from his village to receive an education. He now lives in Atlanta and runs a non profit organization called Balama Development Alliance (BDA). His mission through BDA is to enable transformational development by investing in the dreams of the poor, so that they might be released from physical and spiritual poverty.

Throughout the year, Rev Jessy takes groups of people from the US to Liberia on volunteer trips. Friends, students, church groups and organizations join forces to make a change in Liberia for two weeks at a time. The group stays in a guest house where they are provided lodging, meals and some extra curricular activities.

Some of the programs that BDA runs include:

Christian Education: BDA built and has continued to operate the first free elementary school in the Balama region of Bong County, Liberia. Enrollment is at 400+ students.

Micro-Enterprise Development: BDA provides seed monies of $100 per family to help disenfranchised and war-affected families start and grow self-sustainable businesses for a livelihood.  They have provided micro-loans for 130 families.

Leadership Development: BDA provides scholarships for high school and college students who are committed to serving in rural communities. There are 16 high school and 8 college students who benefit from the scholarship program.

Rev Jessy claims that the involvement in Balama tends to have a much bigger impact on the community, than say a volunteer working in another part of the world. The reason for this is that the population of Liberia (4 million) is less than that of Georgia (almost 10 million) so the impact per person is far greater. He takes up to 20 people at a time and each one of them is able to involved in the community directly.

If you are interested in joining one of the volunteer programs to Liberia, get more information on their web site or join me on a trip later this year. However, they also need virtual volunteers who can assist with training teachers on the ground, mentoring, creating lesson plans, etc. If you can’t make it all the way to Africa but still want to help, you can do so!

Email me sucheta@goeatgive.com if you would like to join my tour to Liberia.