Monday, February 24, 2014

The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook / Shannon O’Donnell

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


“Shannon O'Donnell left in 2008 on a year-long round the world trip. That initial trip turned into an open-ended journey around the world and over the years she has shared her travel stories and photography on her travel blog. In 2011 her travel focus shifted, in addition to launching her passion project, a community sourced database of local, sustainable organizations all over the world, Shannon began homeschooling, traveling, and volunteering with her 12-year-old niece.”


“The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook guides new and veteran travelers through the challenges of finding, vetting, and choosing their ideal volunteer experience. The book's practical advice is interwoven with first-person narrative, stories from a wide range of volunteers, beautiful photography, and expert interviews to help interested volunteers find meaningful ways to give back to communities all over the world-through volunteering, but also through social enterprises and supporting sustainable tourism practices.”


“It’s entirely possible to go abroad and then cloister yourself away from the newness and diversity, to take the immersive aspect out of the cultural exchange—but really, what’s the fun in that?”

That line from The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook gives a good feel for how the author looks at travel, as a means to get know a country, its culture, and people, not spending all her hanging out in hotels and on the tourist sightseeing trail with all the other travelers. If she can leave the country slightly improved when she leaves, so much the better, which is where volunteering comes in.

Although aimed primarily at travel to other countries, much of the advice would apply to volunteer traveling domestically and some of the ideas for vetting volunteer opportunities would make sense if you’re just volunteering in your hometown.

The book discusses different options for volunteer traveling along with the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. It rarely takes a stance, saying one is better than the other, instead giving the information to decide what is best for your particular situation and goals. Perhaps the biggest kudos I can give are that it answers the questions I wouldn’t have realized I should have asked.

 Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars

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