For those looking for a more immersive cultural and language experience in Mexico, volunteer tourism, also known as “voluntourism,” is an excellent alternative and one that is being considered more and more.
You don’t have to be an adventure traveler to appreciate this alternative method of traveling, but you do ned to have a passion for getting to know the real insides of a country and to give of yourself while receiving a transformational experience of a lifetime.
Volunteer Tourism, as defined by Voluntourism.org is:
The conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — arts, culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination.
Mexico is an ideal destination for voluntourists and there are many options for the explorer to consider. However, before selecting a destination and a tour, it’s recommended that you first decide what type of travel experience you want to have. Do you want a more relaxing vacation with a couple of days when you volunteer? Or are you ready to spend two weeks to a month working on one project and what level of intensity are you capable of committing to?
Another factor to consider is how ethical the organization you are traveling with is. Although most are reputable, there’s always the sour apple in the bunch and you don’t want to be caught there. Websites such as EthicalVolunteering.org and VolunTourism101 provide tools and resources for you to find the right organizations and tours in Mexico and elsewhere.
I’ve scoured the web and found some sites that offer excellent resources for finding the ideal voluntour for your next Mexican escapade. This is also an excellent option to immerse older kids in a real travel experience while instilling in them the value of giving back and working for others.
Voluntours in Mexico
Yucatan Today has an excellent article explaining volunteerism and a list of organizations that offer these experiences in Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula. You’ll find options range from AIDS Help to working with Mayan families in their villages close to the pyramids of Chichen Itza to rescuing sea turtles.
Fundación Maya In Laakeech provides sustainable travel and teaching volunteer opportunities through the Hacienda Chichen Itza to enrich and make a difference in the lives of local rural Mayan children.
Projects Abroad offers volunteer work and internships in Guadalajara and the smaller and picturesque town of Ciudad Guzmán. They offer placements in these categories: Teaching, Care, Culture & Community, Conservation & Environment, Medicine, Journalism, Animal care, Arts & Crafts and the Spanish language.
Transitions Abroad magazine has a list of volunteer programs in Mexico ranging from saving coral reefs and sea turtles to teaching English and computer skills to Huichol women artists to building houses in Chiapas.
CHOICE offers humanitarian expeditions to Mexico to “give hope and brighter futures to villagers in their many project areas of southern central Mexico.”
Adelante offers volunteer programs ranging from one to twelve months in duration in the colonial city of Oaxaca.
For a complete guide to the ins and outs of volunteer tourism, check out this guide on Matador.
Share: Have you ever gone on a volunteer tourism project? If so, how was the experience?