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Travel With Purpose
, Blumenfeld shows how voluntourism is an option for anyone who wants to make a difference while they travel at home and abroad. Through vivid examples, first-hand stories, and tips for planning, this book is a rich resource.
"He writes well, with a good eye for memorable details, and provides a wealth of do’s and don'ts for starting. . . ." — Booklist, Starred Review
In this Q&A, we asked
3 questions for our readers to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
1) Why did you write the book and what do you hope readers take away from it?
Voluntourism, quite simply, is the growing trend of helping out at a vacation destination, whether for an hour, a day, a week or more. These projects range from a day helping to restore coral in the South Pacific, volunteering for an eye mission to Nepal, building a school in Senegal, or helping pack apples at a food kitchen in Las Vegas. Or simply carry medical or school supplies in luggage to be donated upon arrival. It’s not hard to lend a hand wherever you go.
Voluntourists are not necessarily celebrities, nor are they otherwise rich and famous. This book contains stories of inspiration from everyday people, everyday voluntourists. These are the stories about the pitfalls, the rewards, and the hardships likely to be encountered–stories of ordinary people with extraordinary volunteer projects both in the United States and abroad. If you spend time considering your options, you’ll find the door open to untold voluntourism opportunities that may make you rethink your next vacation.
2) What’s the most surprising fact you learned when researching your book?
Most Surprising: Voluntourism Doesn’t Need a Passport.
You don’t need to be wealthy to travel to foreign lands to volunteer; you may not even have to go to foreign lands, as opportunities may exist within your own state. What surprised me most was that voluntourism comes in many shapes and forms, all dictated by the individual traveler. In fact, it doesn’t even require a passport. Through free services such as
, which work like the Match.com or Tinder of voluntourism, one can pick almost any destination in the United States as a site for worthwhile projects. It’s the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, with more than 117,000 active nonprofits, 150 network partners, and 13 million visitors annually. I spent time volunteering in Las Vegas and in Denver near my home – all without sleeping on an airplane overnight, bathing in Purell hand sanitizer, or restricting myself to bottled water.
3) Do you have a method, tool, hack, or quirk that helps you write?
My Favorite Writing Hack: Delete, Delete, Delete.
When the time comes to actually sit down and write – once defined as staring at a screen until beads of blood appear on your forehead – I gather together in one Word file all my notes for that section. All my interviews. Online research. Texts sent to myself while driving (hands free, of course). I back up the entire page of notes, then re-save it as a version 2. It’s all there in front of me when I start to write, pulling up and massaging information from lower down in the file. The process of deleting unnecessary information is somehow oddly satisfying and convinces myself that I’m making great progress.
Want to read more
features? Our previous profile on
Tsedale M. Melaku
, author of “
You Don't Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism
” can be found