Baby Boomer Traveling: Making the World a Better Place

Third in a series on traveling with a mission in Costa Rica by Doris Gallan.

Non-profit – and some for-profit – organizations in Costa Rica offer travelers the opportunity to work in helping orphans, organic farms and preserve animals and their habitats. Sorting through all of the opportunities can be a bit daunting at times, so start by researching organizations that provide the chance to work on issues you are most interested in first to find some potential matches. Traveling with a mission for your vacations might allow you to gain a better understanding of the world. Plus while you are helping you will be able to enjoy the many beautiful locations Costa Rica has to offer like white sanded beaches, active volcanoes and forests to spot the wildlife.

Baby Boomers have the advantages of more life and work experience to contribute and, if they have several months to stay, can get even get involved in improving administrative and management issues the organizations may be dealing with. Just make sure the advice is welcomed before you start making suggestions.

On-line volunteer matching services can help you determine which organization you want to help. Everything from working with turtles to monkeys, women to children and building homes in disadvantaged communities are on offer. Individual project descriptions usually give details on: the mission, locations, times of the year, costs & what’s included in the price, living arrangements, qualifications (if any), and contact information as well as links to the organization’s web site.

This is a great way to learn more about issues and – if you live with a family – become immersed in the culture, language and traditions of this small Central American country.

This list, by no means comprehensive, will get you started:

Global Crossings This site is a bit sketchy on the details but matches volunteers with numerous projects including some in education and health care.

Transitions Abroad Isn’t a matchmaker service but lists many volunteering opportunities, gives some of the details to start considering the possibilities as well as contact information for organizations doing work with families and children, animals and the environment.

Volunteer Abroad The Costa Rica section is organized by geographic location (Central Pacific Coast, Eastern Lowlands, Monteverde and North Western Region) and, within each of these, lists the types of projects available.

As you’ll see, some of the websites provide more information than others. You may need to send them an e-mail to get more details before you can make a decision about whether or not to use their services.

The advantage of going through a service, even though some of your fee goes to the administration, is that you get a better sense of the organization for which you will be volunteering. The matchmaking businesses are more used to dealing with volunteers and foreigners and can help you make arrangements for your arrival and departure. The web sites usually give information on the matching organizations which you should read carefully – especially any details on how much of your fee goes to the non-profit organization.

One way to reduce the amount you pay towards administration fees – especially if you plan to go for several months – is to sign up for a few weeks or your first month. Once you are there, and you are sure you want to stay longer, make arrangements directly with the organization for which you are volunteering and the family with whom you are living. By cutting out the middleman, you pay less and the organization and family get a larger percentage of the fee.
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BIO

Doris is a Baby Boomer living in Costa Rica. She and her husband traveled around the world for 26 months visiting 40 countries on six continents (including Antarctica). You can read more about their travels and get travel tips at www.dorisgallan.com. Follow Doris on twitter @dorisgallan.

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About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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