There’s no doubt about it: voluntours cost money, even if all you have to pay for is the airfare. Typically though, with most trips that are planned through an organization, you’ll also have to pay a flat fee that covers your food and lodging during your stay. Much of the time, the money you spend to participate in a volunteer experience contributes directly to the project itself. For example, if you choose the Project Samos Children’s Village Project in Guatemala, your tour fees are guaranteed to contribute to the orphaned and abandoned children’s village infrastructure. This is certainly something to look out for when you’re deciding where to go and how much you’re going to spend.
Travel is irreplaceable. No matter how much you read or learn in school, you can’t capture the real flavor of a place and the people who call it home until you’ve been there. It can feel scary—there are so many unknowns—but taking that risk is part of what makes it so unforgettable. For children, travel is perhaps even more important. Seeing the world’s inequalities first-hand, realizing that any of us could have been born in the slums of Kibera, we learn that there is nothing special about those who are born into privilege. It’s just dumb luck. For those of us who are so lucky, shouldn’t we be doing more to make a difference?