Traveling has become about more than relaxation or spending time with loved ones. Many people use their vacation days to give back, whether through volunteer trips or in their local area. The best part about a vacation is that you can tailor it to fit your wants and needs. Why not relax and give back on your holiday to South Africa?
We have thought of three ways you can travel and volunteer during a vacation – with time, money, or items.
“Voluntourism”, where you donate your time, is on the rise. Most of these involve you living at a project site with other volunteers and project directors. If this is choice suits you, make sure you research each part of the project as thoroughly as you can and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Find out about eating and sleeping arrangements, and the specific tasks you could be assigned to. This is especially helpful is you want to volunteer at a sanctuary or reserve but are uncomfortable around certain animals.
Marine Volunteers, where you help with shark-cage diving and whale-watching boats off Kleinbaai and Dyer Island, is high on our list. You assist the project managers in recording information about these endangered species and marine pollution that affects the waters off South Africa. Volunteers also help research the African Penguin population on Dyer Island that has declined by 90 percent in the past 30 years.
If you don’t have time but still have a desire to help, you could support a charity with a monetary donation or with items. Every charity in the world depends on the support of the community to keep going. If you are concerned with how any type of donation will be used, just ask. They will give you a breakdown of where anything goes, which can often be found directly on their website. Whether donations go to annual costs because they need to employ a doctor or clothes you’ve given will go to an orphanage of children ages 5-11, it is always helpful to understand
If you want to make a donation, we recommend donating to one of the many animal programs in South Africa. There are many sanctuaries and reserves for endangered animals that roam the country. You could donate to your favorite or choose the one that you feel needs the most support. Rhinos and Elephants have been hunted by poachers and now their numbers are dangerously low. Organizations that support their safety may be something worth exploring.
If you would rather donate items we recommend looking into Pack for a Purpose. The organization recognizes the limits of packing, especially when travelling overseas, and suggests small items like calculators, puzzles, story books, band aids and craft materials. They have over 40 locations in South Africa where you can bring your donated items. Many of them are accommodations where you may even choose to stay during your trip!
Will you be giving back during your next holiday?
*These are all suggestions. If you wish to volunteer in any manner we suggest doing research to where you are comfortable to donate anything – time, money or items*