Online Scavenger Hunt: Positive Aspects of Volunteer Traveler

by Ed Forteau /
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Feb 05, 2011 / 0 comments

Online Scavenger Hunt Set to Promote Positive Aspects of Volunteer Traveler

The media seems to be complaining about the negatives of voluntourism and volunteer travel more often than discussing the positives these days. Nola Lee Kelsey, author of the book “700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die: A Traveler’s Guide,” says,  “Voluntourism includes wildlife conservation, animal rescue, fixing trails in the Appalachians, working in orphanages, building schools, cleaning beaches and reefs, archeological digs, art restoration, medical care and health education, emergency disaster response, training guide dogs for the handicapped, promoting fair trade and business development, kibbutz stays, teen projects, organic farming … Thus, when someone hears about a problem at an orphanage or an accident on a wildlife field study and then tirades against an entire industry in the media, I see it as both uneducated and irresponsible.”

So where is the positive news about volunteer travel? Last month Kelsey unveiled The Voluntary Traveler website (, giving away free downloads of her eBook, “The V-List: The World’s Most Complete Reference Book of Global Volunteer Travel Opportunities” to everyone who subscribed. According to Kelsey, “The site is designed for those who understand the value of international voluntourism or who are open to learning more about its diverse opportunities. We strive to be an online resource for information on global voluntourism with a strong focus on the positive side of the industry by building the site through an exchange of information between travelers.”  The Voluntary Traveler includes:

•    Articles written by volunteers for volunteers
•    Articles by professional travel writers and those working within the travel industry
•    News from the voluntourism industry
•    Short-term blogs by guest bloggers who are currently on projects
•    Podcasts and other media designated to inspire and inform volunteer travelers
•    Links to a vast array of volunteer travel providers and additional resources for travelers

What is in store for readers of The Voluntary Travelers? This month Kelsey continues the new website’s launch by putting her money where her mouth is, and having a little fun in the process. The Voluntary Traveler is hosting a website scavenger hunt.  Ten questions designed to introduce readers to the website’s various departments and to the vast world of volunteer travel opportunities have been listed. Cash and prizes, including books and a first place prize of $100 cash or a $100 Kiva gift certificate are up for grabs.

“I liked the idea of using a scavenger hunt. They encourage exploration and discovery. That makes them well suited for travelers,” says Kelsey.

What is the end game? By educating travelers and reminding them of the positive attributes at the core of the volunteer travel industry, perhaps by this time next year we will see more positive news stories about individual volunteer programs and the work they do. It should be proportional. If the majority of something is good, shouldn’t the majority of the talk about it be positive as well?

For more information visit:

Practicing what she preaches!
Author Nola Lee Kelsey was born and educated as a zoologist. Her passion for helping animals is unyielding. At the age of 20 she became the Volunteer Coordinator for a San Diego-based wildlife rescue where she was working as full-time volunteer Wildlife Keeper around her classes. In addition to writing about volunteer projects, interviewing providers and volunteers for her books, podcast (The Voluntary Traveler) and articles, Nola is a serial volunteer herself. She works from her home in Chiang Mai, Thailand. From there she volunteers with Care for Dogs in Chiang Mai, running their Volunteer Orientation Program. This allows her a greater perspective on the volunteer traveler and gives Nola the chance to interview participants about other projects they have been involved with around the world.