How to Choose a Volunteer Vacation that's Right for You - United Hub

How to choose a volunteer vacation that’s right for you

By Matt Chernov

When Oscar Wilde said “the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention," he summed up the essence of volunteering. For many, that act of kindness begins at home, with time being donated to local charities. But recently, a growing number of people are combining their passion for travel with their desire to help others. These volunteer vacationers have touched countless lives, all while doing what they love to do. If you've been considering a volunteer vacation, here are several well-respected organizations that offer placement services for prospective travelers, along with some tips to help you choose the right one.

Habitat for Humanity International

Founded in 1976, this non-government organization is the largest non-profit home builder in the world. Habitat for Humanity International offers an excellent introduction to volunteerism by providing many different ways to help, including volunteering locally or joining trips to more than 40 different nations. Volunteers can work individually or as part of a larger group, and long-term opportunities are available for those who find the experience rewarding. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, visit one of their neighborhood beautification events and sign up to work for a day.

Global Vision International

For more than 15 years, this award-winning volunteer program has created safe and trustworthy opportunities for thousands of people to give back to the world in meaningful ways. In partnership with local communities and government organizations, Global Vision International provides aid in regions like Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. With more than 150 projects in 25 countries to choose from, volunteers work directly alongside the people they're helping. From construction to healthcare, women's empowerment to marine conservation, Global Vision International offers something for everyone. Even younger volunteers, between the ages of 15 and 17, can spend a summer abroad in one of Global Vision International's specially designed youth volunteering programs.

Earthwatch

Volunteers who are interested in nature and wildlife conservation will find themselves right at home with Earthwatch, a research and educational program that relies on volunteer scientists. Established in 1971, Earthwatch places volunteers on expeditions around the world, researching climate change, ocean health and cultural archeology. Depending on the nature of the work, expeditions can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. If you've ever wanted to investigate an active volcano in Nicaragua, help scientists study the effects of global warming on grizzly bears in Montana, or preserve the endangered coral reefs of the Cayman Islands, Earthwatch is waiting for you. The program offers opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (or WWOOF, as it's commonly known) is a loose network of national organizations that help volunteers who are interested in sustainable farming and organic agriculture. More than 100 countries around the world have WWOOF programs, making it one of the most popular volunteer vacation programs of its kind. Volunteers live on host farms and work directly with growers on daily chores, such as feeding, watering and milking livestock; planting, weeding and harvesting crops; and farm-related maintenance. Emphasizing international travel and global cooperation, WWOOF is as much a cultural exchange program as it is a volunteer initiative.

Discover Corps

Offering “travel with a purpose," Discover Corps is dedicated to helping volunteers immerse themselves in amazing cultures, while simultaneously giving back to those less fortunate. Working in partnership with the National Peace Corps Association, Discover Corps hosts volunteer vacations in countries like Costa Rica, Belize, Thailand and Cuba. All meals, lodging, transportation and fees are provided in-country by Discover Corps, leaving volunteers free to explore the road less traveled.

Volunteering tips:

Regardless of which program you choose, be sure to seek out direct testimonials from volunteers who've experienced it firsthand. You can find their reviews on the social media pages of each placement's organization, or by visiting the website Go Overseas, which collects honest feedback from hundreds of travelers who've previously volunteered.

Finally, here are a few common questions to ask that will help you select the volunteer vacation that's right for you:

  • What kind of projects will I be working on?
  • Will tools and work clothes be provided?
  • Is there laundry service at the location?
  • Is there electricity at the lodging?
  • Are there days off from work?
  • How hot or cold does it get?
  • What is the difficulty level?
  • What's the food like?

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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