Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

Make the World a Better Place with These Guided Tours

Looking to make a difference in the world? There are bunches of guided tours around the globe where travelers can give back and make an impact in-destination. From wildlife sanctuaries to land stewardship programs, travelers will love getting their hands dirty for a good cause.

Protect Elephants in Zimbabwe

elephant running across a dirt road

Travelers with a soft spot for animals won’t want to miss the chance to volunteer at one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in Africa with GoEco. From cheetahs to chimpanzees, Bulawayo’s wildlife orphanage is a safe place for animals that have little hope for survival in the wild on their own. Volunteers can help by caring for animals; educating Zimbabwe public school children on wildlife species and conservation; engaging in field research; improving the lives of wounded animals and assisting in wildlife releases. The program calls for a two-week commitment minimum and volunteers will be provided accommodations, meals and transportation.

Stewardship at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Fans of outdoor superstore REI will be happy to learn that the retailer offers guided tours with a focus on giving back to destinations around the globe. Volunteer opportunities vary throughout the year and many focus on land stewardship at historical sites and world-renowned parks. Popular REI volunteer vacations include trail maintenance and archeological restoration at Machu Picchu; sea turtle and giant tortoise conservation in the Galapagos Islands; and stewardship in Costa Rica.

Community Work in Bali


Travelers can help local villages thrive with a trip to Bali. This particular opportunity through GoEco visits the community of Ubud where volunteers can choose between placements in teaching, construction or health education. Teaching volunteers will work with children ages 7-11 and can expect to work anywhere from two to five hours a day. The children in Ubud know little to no English and the primary teaching focus of the program is basic English comprehension. Lack of medical care is another issue in the area; volunteers interested in health education will encourage locals to improve their personal health and hygiene. Lastly, those assigned to the construction project will work to improve the community’s local infrastructure by renovating and repairing existing buildings.

Preserve Culture in Romania


History buffs can live out their dreams of exploring a land far, far away, Indiana Jones-style with ProjectsAbroad’s archaeology restoration program in Romania. Volunteers will be taken back to the days of the mighty Roman Empire as they focus on preserving historically and culturally significant sites, protect ancient artifacts and participate in archaeological digs. Much of ProjectAbroad’s work takes place in the city of Alba luila, an area locals consider the spiritual capital of Romania. Alba lulia is also the site of the ancient city Apulum which dates back to the second century.

Accommodations, food and transportation are included in the cost of the trip and travelers are encouraged to explore surrounding attractions. Two nearby sites not to be missed are the town of Transylvania and the infamous Bran (or as spooky people like to call it, Dracula’s) Castle.

Impact Tours with Collette

young man reading to a bunch of school children

Guided tour company Collette offers Impact Travel Programs to South Africa and Costa Rica. Collette’s Impact Travel Programs allow volunteers to experience each destination’s must-see sights and beauty while working towards sustainable change in the area. Volunteers work alongside locals on a variety of projects such as education, hunger relief and stewardship.

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