By Maggie McKenzie
In today’s ever-connected 24/7 virtual society it isn’t uncommon to hear
someone say they had worked all through their well-earned holidays.
But an increasing number of people are opting to disconnect from
technology and connect with nature on a working holiday
Feeling stressed and in need of a rejuvenating break. You’re not alone. However, a new holiday trend may be the answer. Short term holiday volunteering is emerging as a new leisure travel trend driven by blue-collar workers tired of their daily commute, air conditioning and artificially lit office cubicles.
Working holidays are marketed as an opportunity to connect with nature – come rain or shine, enjoy the camaraderie of team projects, de-stress and recharge burnt-out urbanite batteries. But what are the benefits of swapping two weeks on a golf resort compared to the aches and pains that may follow a week of manual labour. The answer is said to be multi-faceted. According to recent reports, volunteers gain a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction from the results of their work, the opportunity to meet people and make new like-minded friends. For older volunteers, studies show that they frequently live longer and report less disability than their similarly aged cohorts. So given these benefits, here are our top three ideas to help you consider if volunteering is on the agenda for your next holiday.
If getting your hands dirty is on your itinerary for your next holiday then consider ‘Wwoofing’. Also known as the ‘World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms’, the Wwoofing organisation was set up to give urban residents the opportunity to engage all year-long in the burgeoning organic farming movement. Wwoof’s global hosts of farms and smallholdings offer volunteers food, accommodation and the chance to learn about organic farming lifestyles. In turn volunteers offer their time and effort. Tasks vary from picking grapes in the Dordogne, goat herding in Peru to sustainable farming in Nepal.
The volunteering organisation Workaway has a network of thousands of host organisations seeking volunteers across 135 countries. Volunteers can select from multiple opportunities individually tailored to their specific interests and skill sets; like farming vegetables using aquaponics in China, or perhaps a skilled painting drawn to the baroque style in a renovation project in the Mosel region of Germany. Or even if you want to use your web designing skills to help promote a museum in deepest darkest Peru – there are opportunities for you!
Britain’s National Trust helps to preserve and conserve many of the UKs greatest national treasures, including safeguarding landscapes and maintaining historic buildings throughout the country. Their volunteer working holiday programme, started over 50 years ago, offers opportunities to work on multiple ever increasing projects. They enable participants to actively take part in archaeological, coastal, countryside, construction, farming, gardening, rural skills and historic house projects for either individuals, couples and families. Some holidays actually offer a variety of activities geared to suit every member of the family and every ability level.
Volunteering engenders a sense of well-being and positivity, it enables people to connect with nature and absorb different cultures. They learn new skills and share knowledge but above all their time has been spent productively helping others.
So next time you find yourself in a café telling a friend you worked ALL holiday – you may just be retelling the stories about walking barefoot across Mediterranean meadows to pick fresh peaches from the trees on an organic farm – come rain or shine!
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