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Demand for volunteering trips set to soar in 2013

7th February 2013 Print

The number of young travellers taking part in volunteering and conservation projects is set to soar in 2013, according to youth travel specialists STA Travel.

A recent survey commissioned by the company highlighted that 40 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds are considering booking a volunteering trip as part of their travel plans this year. For 25 to 34 year-olds just under one-third (32 per cent) are eyeing a volunteering element to their travels. Wanting to give something back and do something meaningful whilst travelling was the key driver for this with 61 per cent of 18 to 24 year-old respondents and 58% of 25 to 24 year olds citing this reason for wanting to volunteer whilst overseas.

However continuing youth unemployment in the UK is also a key driver meaning that young people are looking for ways of bolstering their CVs to stand out from the crowded job search market. For 18 to 24 year olds this is particularly true with 41% citing the need to boost their CV as the primary reason for taking part in a volunteering or educational project whilst overseas.

STA Travel’s marketing director Laurence Bresh said: “Young people have used travel to broaden their horizons for many years, however this avenue has become more formal with the majority of people booking a gap year or round-the-world trip looking to incorporate some sort of skill and CV-boosting activity while they’re away.”

STA Travel has recently launched its new “Volunteer and Learn” brochure which features more than 85 projects all over the world, ranging from one-day long to six months. Projects available include opportunities to work with children, communities, animals, sports and conservation projects.

Sample projects:

New for 2013 South Africa: Five weeks of sports coaching in Port Elizabeth, from £1101 per person. This programme targets schools that do not have the resources to provide students with any physical education. The focus is on sport coaching (no formal qualifications are needed), as is the development of life skills, promoting health and social awareness and getting children involved in positive activities. The longer you stay the more rewarding as you’ll see their skills improve over time. Price includes dorm-style accommodation in volunteer house, all meals and transfers to and from Port Elizabeth airport.

Thailand: seven-day Thai Elephant Conservation, from £389 per person.Set in a valley surrounded by forested mountains, an hour from Chiang Mai by road, the park offers a peaceful home for more than 30 neglected and abused elephants who are cared for by a team of full-time staff andvolunteers. Price includes on-site accommodation in volunteer huts, meals, and transfers to and from Chiang Mai.

Fiji: 15 days Teach Children in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, from £1095 per person. This project provides assistance to local teachers to help give children a better chance for the future. You’ll fully immerse yourself in Fijian culture while teaching games and activities inside and out of the classroom. The community specifically requested help with English, maths, science, sports and the arts. Price includes accommodation in shared huts, transfers from Fiji to the islands and all meals.

Prices above do not include international flights and travel insurance.

Top tips for getting the most out of your volunteering project:

Plan ahead and think about why you want to take part, what you want to achieve and how long you can volunteer for

Take the opportunity to really immerse yourself in in the local culture to see the country differently from a typical tourist

It’s great for CV building - a year out looks ok, but a year out with some volunteering projects look even better

Most projects are inclusive (include meals and transfers for example) so they are great value when you’re on the ground

Consider staying longer. A seven-day stay gives you a great taster but the longer you stay the bigger the difference you can make and the more you get out of it.

For further information: