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Volunteer Vacations: The Health Benefits of Helping Others
Creating a Sense of Well-Being
Helping Chronic Pain
Learning About Volunteer Vacations
- Location—Some people choose a location close to home or within their country, while others want to go abroad.
- Type of challenge—There are many types of challenges ranging from physically grueling to intellectually stimulating. You will have to decide which is best for you.
- Your skills—Your professional skills may be in great demand in less developed countries. Helping others may also help to prevent job burnout and improve job satisfaction.
- Language—If you are contemplating travel to a foreign country, take into consideration the language spoken and your ability to communicate.
- Length of time—Most volunteer vacations run from 1-3 weeks. Decide how much time you can donate.
- Free time—Ask the organization you are volunteering for about their policy on free time. Will you have time to go off on your own and explore?
- The Earthwatch Institute offers trips to remote locations where scientific research is done from filming dolphins to testing water to gathering nutritional information.
- The American Hiking Society offers trips from Maine to Alaska where participants rebuild footpaths, cabins, and shelters.
- Wilderness Volunteers work with public land agencies like the Forest Service to preserve and clear wild lands.
- Passport In Time centers its vacations on archaeological excavations and preserving historical structures.
- The Sierra Club works on a variety of tasks, from observing marine life to maintaining vulnerable wilderness areas.
International Volunteers Programs Association http://www.volunteerinternational.org
United Nations Volunteers http://www.unv.org
Volunteer Canada http://www.volunteer.ca
Volunteer Toronto http://volunteertoronto.ca
Arnstein P, Vidal M, Wells-Federman C, et al. From chronic pain patient to peer: benefits and risks of volunteering. Pain Management Nursing. 2002;3:94-103.
Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research. 2007. Available at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07%5F0506%5Fhbr.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2014.
Musick MA, Wilson J. Volunteering and depression: the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups. Social Science & Medicine. 2003;56:259-69.
Thoits PA, Hewitt LN. Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 2001;42:115-131.
Volunteering in the United States, 2013. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.toc.htm. Updated February 25, 2014. Accessed May 1, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 05/01/2014