The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook guides new and veteran travelers through the challenges of finding, vetting, and choosing their ideal volunteer experience. The book’s practical advice is interwoven with first-person narrative, stories from diverse volunteers, beautiful photography, and expert interviews. Volunteers will find meaningful ways to give back all over the world—through volunteering, but also through social enterprises and sustainable tourism.
Beyond merely giving advice, the book answers the questions you never thought to ask. The book covers:
- the psychology and ethics of volunteering.
- strategies for finding and vetting volunteer organizations.
- tips to adjust to life as a volunteer.
- travel advice covering safety, food, packing, and cultural immersion.
- resource lists to begin your research.
**Available in paperback and most e-readers**
About Shannon O’Donnell Shannon O’Donnell is a travel writer, speaker, and marketing consultant. She founded A Little Adrift in 2008 and shares her stories, photography, volunteering experiences, and advice from her years traveling around the world both solo, and more recently with her 12-year-old niece. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, Cosmopolitan Italy, and various international travel magazines and publications.
Reviews of The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook
“Anyone thinking of volunteering in another country should read this book. Whether you want to volunteer for a day, a week, or a year, whether you’re a solo traveler, a family, a college student, or someone looking for a midlife career change, Shannon’s book can help you choose an experience that will be ethical and rewarding.
From how to vet a volunteer organization, to preparing for your trip, managing your expectations, adapting to different cultures, and dealing with reverse culture shock when you return, this handbook is full of practical tips and personal stories that can help a traveler prepare for a successful volunteer experience.”
Marilyn Terrell Chief Researcher, National Geographic Travelermagazine
“Shannon does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for those who are interested in volunteering overseas. You need more than good intentions when you set out to try and help others as part of a trip. Shannon will help you manage your expectations, pick which projects you should work on, and get ready for your volunteering adventure. I’ll be recommending this book to all my readers who are looking to volunteer overseas”
Gary Arndt Blogger at Everything Everywhere
“I wish I’d had this handbook when I volunteered! Shannon asks all the right questions and offers practical advice from her own globetrotting experiences.” Ken Budd Author of the memoir The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem
“More than just a helpful list of resources and tips, this handbook helps the novice volunteer navigate the myriad of choices in organizations to find their best fit, along with a healthy dose of perspective on seeing the realistic—not idealistic—effects of volunteering.”
Michelle Schusterman Associate Editor at Matador Network
**Available in paperback and most e-readers**
A Note From the Author
My volunteer travel journey started in 2008 when I left on what would become an open-ended journey around the world. Before leaving to travel, service was an occasional part of my life—I volunteered regularly in my university years but I allowed my focus on service to dwindle during my years living in Los Angeles as an actress.
After two years in Los Angeles, I felt an urge to change my life to embrace a different dream, one I had always nurtured but had never expressed. I decided to pack up my life and travel around the world for a year with the intention of volunteering and giving back to communities along the way, while recording the entire journey on my travel blog, A Little Adrift.
Over the course of my trip, research, word-of-mouth, and on-the-ground discoveries led me to a range of volunteer experiences in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Nepal, Guatemala, and several other countries. Each experience was unique, and through each I learned more lessons about how to identify projects that resonated with my volunteer goals, while also supporting the organization’s needs.
As I traveled more and more, I saw a gap in the volunteer industry, and launched my passion project: a community-sourced database of independent volunteer opportunities, philanthropic businesses, and social enterprises located all over the world. GrassrootsVolunteering.org is a free, open, and dynamic source of information for volunteers.
The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook is an extension of my work on Grassroots Volunteering, and looks closely at each aspect of the volunteer industry that every socially responsible traveler should understand. It’s the missing pieces, the questions you never thought to ask. My sole goal with this book is to give you, the volunteer traveler, the tools you need to make positive choices as you travel the world.
Table of Contents
The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbookshares information in a unique format: through the use of personal stories, guidance from recognized voices in the volunteer space, practical tips, photos and resources.