For many adults, retirement means more time to travel and explore. If you have big plans for traveling locally or abroad in your retirement, you are in good company. A recent survey from RBC Wealth Management reports that 63% of Americans over the age of 50 say that travel is an important retirement goal.

While you are daydreaming about where to travel next, consider pairing two passions for your next adventure: volunteerism and tourism. Volunteer tourism is a popular trend that has been gaining steam for the past two decades. On these trips, travelers get to know the area they are traveling to on a deeper level by participating in volunteer service while there. Don’t worry; there’s still plenty of time to relax. But many active adults are finding that giving back during travel helps them feel more connected to other parts of the country or world.

Trip Inspiration

You can find volunteer opportunities in nearly every large city around the globe, but if you aren’t quite sure where to start, there are organizations that will help you plan a trip with other volunteers. Most organizations offer volunteer trips that run from one week to 24 weeks, giving you the option to make the volunteerism the main feature of your trip or to spend a week volunteering before taking off to be a full-time tourist for another week.

  • Love Volunteers has opportunities to do environmental conservation work in New Orleans and Puerto Rico.
  • Projects Abroad has trips planned specifically for adults over the age of 50. You can volunteer to provide childcare help in Nepal, work in conservation in Ecuador, and more.
  • Similarly, GVI hosts trips for older adults with local and international opportunities to help with public health initiatives, women’s empowerment, construction, coaching, or conservation.
  • International Volunteer HQ has specialized volunteer programs for seniors that offer the opportunity for travelers to upgrade to private rooms. Trips are available to places including Tanzania, Nepal, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and more.

Of course, if you don’t want to go the agency-planned route, you can certainly find volunteer opportunities anywhere you are traveling next. Here are a few ways you can make volunteerism easier any time you travel:

  • If you have a favorite organization you already volunteer for, ask them if they have any opportunities for you to assist with projects in places you will be traveling. For example, if you already volunteer to make meals at the local Ronald McDonald House, find a House in the next city you will be visiting and get on their list to make meals during your time there.
  • Call ahead to the city you will be traveling to and see if there are any volunteer projects you can help with while you are enjoying their city.
  • Narrow down your volunteer choices based on your interests. Love kids? See if you can volunteer as a guest reader at an after-school program. Have a passion for serving veterans? Call the VFW or VA hospital where you will be traveling to see if you can help out in any way.
  • Consider finding out if where you are traveling could use specific donations for charitable organizations there. Then, rally your friends to drop off those requested donations so you can load them in your car before you take off for your trip.

Download Our Visual Guide for Keeping an Older Mind Sharp 

How Arbor Communities Can Support You

When it comes to volunteer tourism, the sky's the limit. You have the power to volunteer as long as you’d like, for organizations you love, doing something you feel passionate about. The choices are all yours, and for volunteer tourists who call Arbor communities their home base, we are there to support your charitable endeavors.

Here are just a few ways the team at your Arbor home can ease the stress as you plan your trip:

  • Our concierge team is happy to take care of collecting any of your mail and packages while you are away.
  • Our team can help you pack so you don’t accidentally forget an important piece of clothing or a needed supply.
  • Our housekeeping team can ensure you return home to a clean and welcoming apartment.
  • We can help you hire someone to water your plants while you are gone.
  • We would love to offer you the chance to lead a travelogue event upon your return so you can share your experiences with your other residents (only if you’d like to, of course).
  • Our team can work with you to organize workshops where other residents can make cards for you to pass out while you are volunteering or plan for a supply drive.
  • If needed, we can coordinate any transportation for last-minute errands or physician appointments before you go.

Our community teams are happy to assist so you can leave for your trip feeling inspired, empowered, and energetic.

Volunteer tourism is just one way you can make retirement anything but boring. Check out other ideas for how you can commit to hobbies and passions that keep you cognitively healthy by downloading our free guide, “The Visual Guide for Keeping an Older Mind Sharp.”

Bon voyage and safe travels!

New Call-to-action

Begin Your Senior Living Journey with Arbor

Begin Your Senior Living Journey with Arbor

Find a Community