Work with giant pandas at China’s Dujiangyan Research Center with The Dragon Trip. // © 2017 Creative Commons user LWY
Feature image (above): Volunteer to teach primary-school kids on a remote Fijian island with Island Spirit. // © 2017 Island Spirit
Now more than ever, travelers are seeking to connect more deeply with the destinations they visit, and they’re attuned to the need for green initiatives, community support and sustainable travel practices.
Because of this, volunteer-based trips are an increasingly popular prospect for all types of travelers — whether they’re families, couples or solo vacationers.
Have clients who are looking to lend a helping hand while on vacation in Asia or the South Pacific? Here are five give-back tours to book.
Give Back in Asia With Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) hones in on community-focused and wildlife conservation initiatives and offers programs in nine destinations within Asia and the South Pacific.
All of its projects, which can last from one to 24 weeks, are risk-assessed regularly by the company’s management team to ensure that the programs are not only safe for the volunteers, but that they are also making a positive impact.
PMGY’s projects span a variety of fields, including education, wildlife conservation, child care and medical. There are also volunteering trips for teens who are 14 years old and older — because no one’s too young to help change the world. Rates range based on program and destination chosen.
Panda Volunteering Tour With The Dragon Trip
Promising authentic and insightful experiences (sans the tourist traps) in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, The Dragon Trip’s Panda Volunteering Tour is perfect for those who are passionate about wildlife conservation.
The 11-day trip gives clients the opportunity to help save endangered pandas — and maybe squeeze in some cuddles on the side. Trip highlights include three days of volunteer work at China’s Dujiangyan Panda Center, where travelers will prepare food, clean the animals and tend to their other needs.
Though the work is its own reward, every volunteer will receive a certificate for their efforts — plus, they will have an additional week to explore other areas of China, including Chengdu, Xian and Beijing. The price, which begins at $1,679, includes guided services, accommodations, transportation and activities.
Volunteer Abroad With International Volunteer HQ
International Volunteer HQ claims to offer the world’s best, most-trusted and most-affordable volunteer-abroad programs. It has more than 200 programs in over 40 destinations spanning five continents (locations in Asia and the South Pacific include Bali, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and more.)
Visitors simply choose a program that they feel passionate about — whether it’s focused on teaching, wildlife preservation, environmental conservation or community development — and then the destination. The length of the programs vary but can range from one week to three months. Rates begin at $180.
Airport pickup, accommodations and meals are included in the registration fee.
Wildcrafted Volunteering in Fiji With Island Spirit
Island Spirit takes a scrupulous approach when it comes to partnerships, and the company prides itself on handpicking collaborators that truly believe in a sustainable tourism approach.
The company offers Wildcrafted Volunteering experiences that allow guests to immerse in a destination.
The Student Volunteer Teaching Fiji trip, for example, takes place in a remote village in northern Fiji, where guests can spend nearly a month teaching primary-school children in the areas of English, math, science, physical education and geography (from $2,110). Other itineraries offer clients the chance to participate in “coral reef gardening” to restore Fiji’s coral reef for a week (from $920); take an educational snorkeling trip to learn about the area’s reef systems (from $2,110); and partake in a monthlong excursion that incorporates hiking, kayaking, two weeks of volunteering and earning a PADI certificate in scuba diving (from $2,765).
Work with Cambodian Children With ConCERT
The nonprofit Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism (ConCERT) was founded to offer visitors to Cambodia guidance on appropriate and responsible ways to volunteer and help impoverished local communities in and around Siem Reap. It also helps clients filter through the countless volunteer organizations in the country for constructive volunteerism.
With an emphasis on sustainable and lasting outcomes, ConCERT has more than 20 local projects that span several initiatives, including education, environmental conservation and biodiversity protection, child care, agricultural development, healthcare, access to clean water and vocational training.
Programs run from one to eight weeks, and the price includes accommodations, transportation, 24-hour in-country support and more. Rates range from $400 (for one week) to $1,185 (for eight weeks). Even better? At least 25 percent of a client’s payment is donated to the project they’re placed in.