Rethinking Volunteer Travel

Posted on: January 9, 2014 Posted by: Manin Oem Comments: 0

Rethinking Volunteer Travel

volunteersInternational volunteering has grown in popularity, and with so many people going abroad to “serve”, we worry that we are often forgetting a really important step: we have to learn before we can help. If we don’t research our options thoroughly, understand the context and culture of the communities we visit, and ensure that our skills and experience match the needs, volunteering can be wasteful, and at worst, cause a lot of harm.

PEPY, and our friends at the Learning Service, are promoting a movement of learning, designed to better prepare young people about to travel abroad for the first time, and travelers of all ages looking to give back through their time, with the skills and mindsets they need to be of “service”, not just for a few weeks on a volunteer trip, but for the rest of their lives.

Got a question about PEPY’s values on volunteering/voluntourism?

Because of our past, we get asked a lot about our views on the burgeoning voluntourism industry. To help you, we have collated a list Frequently Asked Questions. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, contact us

Test your responsible volunteer knowledge and win prizes along the way!

Our friends over at Learning Service think international volunteering is great, but they’re also convinced it could be done a lot better. We agree!

In summer 2013 they launched a website full of information, insights, and resources that help educate would-be volunteers about the impacts of their volunteering decisions – both good and bad – which will better equip them to put their good intentions to good use.

Video 1 LSTo continue engaging the volunteer travel community Learning Service created the ”Know Before You Go” video competition. Starting January 7th they will release a new video each week along with a single-question quiz.

After watching, viewers who answer the question correctly will be entered in a drawing for a pair of KEEN Shoes and Eagle Creek Pack-it Cube. When the last video is released, those who’ve correctly answered all six questions will have the chance to win a three-day stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia!

The contest starts on Tuesday, January 7th so please spread the word. Be sure to join the challenge too – you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to visit Cambodia! If you have any questions please go to, or get in touch with them via

PEPY’s Commitment to Responsible Volunteering

PEPY began by creating a funding stream for education programs through tourism. In the early days, we invited volunteers from around the world to spend a week or two visiting our projects and understanding local issues, encouraging them to give back. We quickly learned this was not the message we wanted to be sending out. We did not believe in short term quick fixes. So as an organization, we changed to focus on funding education through educational adventures based on responsible tourism values through PEPY Tours.

Today, both parts of the PEPY family offer volunteer opportunities to international or local individuals. We ask that people commit a minimum of six months to our organization, to ensure the experience is mutually beneficial to both parties. View out current opportunities here, or PEPY Tours here.