Volunteer vacations have grown in popularity over the past several decades. Today there are hundreds of opportunities to travel to nations around the globe and spend a week or two volunteering for a wide variety of good causes. While some volunteer vacations are designed for young people and families, there are many that are well-suited for retirees.
There are several benefits to a volunteer vacation. There is the rewarding feeling that comes from helping the environment, animals, or people who are less fortunate. Volunteer vacations offer you the opportunity to experience a local culture in a more authentic way than you possibly could by staying at a luxury resort and only seeing famous tourist landmarks. The organizations that offer these vacations handle the planning and logistics, so there are fewer arrangements to be made by you. And since you will travel and work in a small supervised group, you will meet and work with like-minded people in a safe environment.
But all volunteer vacations are not created equally. Here are eight essential tips that will help you select and prepare for a successful volunteer vacation.
In mid-January, I flew from Tampa to Havana on a trip that would introduce me to a country that has been off limits for me (and most Americans) for over 55 years. I participated in a one-week service program in Cuba with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) based in Minneapolis.
Along with 19 other volunteers ages 30-78, I spent a week on various work projects that included painting a fence at our base (the Cuba Council of Churches), spending time with seniors at a senior care center and working with students on English in an evening program. Another team did crocheting with a women's group for part of the day.
Every afternoon we had a few hours of free time. In the evening we all met for dinner at various locations suggested by our excellent team leader, Stephanie. The trip was a combination of helping our host community and a wonderful cultural learning experience for a group of Americans, most of whom had never been to Cuba.
About three years ago, at age 62, I was finishing up my media sales management career and realized it was time to move on. My pension was set so I was lucky that I had flexibility. I knew I no longer wanted a full-time job.
Retire? But to what? I don't play golf, crochet, play bridge or enjoy any of those interests my friends do. I adore my grandson and family, but they are 1,200 miles away so a weekend four or five times a year is the best I can do.
Travel, the outdoors, healthy endeavors and children are my passions. In 2013, I started to work on a plan for the next phase of life. The goal was for it to be meaningful and rewarding.
I surfed the internet looking for travel ideas, cost-effective options and different ways that volunteering would be mutually beneficial with my interests, skills and passions. My good friend bought me a book on volunteer travel. In my free time I read, analyzed and sifted through websites and books, and talked with colleagues and friends.
One of the best things about retirement is that you finally have all the time you need to vacation. You have no job that makes you cut your vacation short. After you are retired, you can take all the time you want to see the world. You can cross destinations off your bucket list as you see all the wonderful vacation spots the world has to offer. If you are looking for some amazing vacation destinations, here are ten remarkable places to travel during your retirement.
If you have traveled internationally, you have probably visited charming, exciting places and thought about how great it would be to retire there. You may be motivated to stretch your retirement dollars in a place with lower cost of living and cheaper health care. Maybe you want to enjoy your leisure years in a locale with a warmer climate and breathtaking natural beauty. Perhaps you are ready for a new adventure and the opportunity to discover new lands and experience new cultures. Or maybe you are formulating an escape plan in the event your least favorite candidate makes it into the White House.
Whatever your motivations are, if you are considering retiring to another country, here are twelve factors to research and consider before you start packing.
Each year, over a million people migrate from colder regions of the United States and Canada to sunny locations in Florida, Arizona, and other Sunbelt states. To these snowbirds, seasonal migration offers the best of both worlds – an opportunity to maintain ties to family, friends, and familiar places, while also enjoying a change of scenery and an escape from cold, wintry weather. While there are many advantages to being a snowbird, there are also challenges and additional expenses to consider before you start packing.
Is your bucket list just a vague, ever-changing set of ideas in your head, or do you actually have yours written down?
As you look forward to all the things you might do to make your retirement fun and memorable, actually writing a list of things you want to do during the remainder of your life will result in a much higher probability that you will achieve some or all of your dreams than if they remain just swimming around in your head. Plus, you’ll have a lot more to look forward to and you’ll view your retirement in a much more positive light.
For this article, I am going to focus on your travel bucket list – your list of places you want to visit and location-specific things you want to do. Then, I’ll share a few ways you can make your travel dreams easier to achieve.