Voluntourism: How to Travel for Change

Jun 26,
Sub-Categorized in: Travel

Deep in the jungles of northern Thailand there’s a magical place where you can live with elephants. No joke. Up close and personal, one-on-one, amazing elephant time! Take a walk from your lovely garden bungalow to enjoy an authentic Thai breakfast, followed by a day of hands on elephant activities. This enchanting elephant haven is called BLES…and just as the name suggests, it is truly a blessing.

Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) is a seriously inspirational organization that “strives to rescue and protect the elephants of Thailand from abuse and ultimate extinction.” Not only is BLES making incredible progress to help rehabilitate these magnificent and sensitive creatures, they encourage travelers to stay on their beautiful grounds and participate in the elephant’s day-to-day lives. Guests are allowed to share in feeding & bath time and might even have the chance to hike with the elephants and set up camp in the jungle! BLES’ guest proceeds go directly to helping sustain this magnificent sanctuary…what a fabulous way to explore the world and contribute your time (and dollars) to a worthy project in need!

This type of immersive travel is known as ‘voluntourism’ and it allows folks on vacation to participate in the growth and progress of a project, all while having a powerful and life-changing experience. It’s a win / win! As an animal lover who’s always been fascinated with elephants, a visit to BLES has been on my do-travel-list for some time. I’m a huge fan of the volunteer vacay and often make a point to connect to wonderful projects while I journey abroad. With the proper research, I believe this is an amazing way for a traveler to fully engage in a new culture and community while helping create positive change.

BLES is a perfect place for a voluntourist to visit, but if elephants aren’t your thing, no worries! There are loads of other noble organizations out there that welcome guests who wish to lend a helping hand. From community garden projects in Peru, to solar-power programs in Zambia, to Sloth sanctuaries in Costa Rica…there are plenty of ways to travel, contribute and change!