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April 2009 Survey Reveals That, in the Current Economic Downturn, Travelers Find Meaning in Volunteering Abroad

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, April 29, 2009 -Today GeckoGo releases the results of Volunteer Travel
Insights 2009, the largest international volunteer survey ever conducted.  Globally, 2481
consumers were surveyed on their opinions and motivations behind volunteer travel. The survey
was conducted in conjunction with Bradt Travel Guides and Lasso Communications in April

“This survey provides a great insight into the motivations of those looking to volunteer abroad.
Demographic as well as psychographic elements were analyzed and the result is a clear, and
sometimes surprising, picture of the volunteer traveler,” comments Alexia Nestora of

Key findings include:

Volunteer vacationers help out at home too
A large number of people who volunteer abroad have also volunteered in their home country
(60%), with another 33% interested in volunteering who haven’t yet found the right opportunity

Females volunteer more than men
Sixty-four percent (64%) of females are currently volunteering or have volunteered before,
compared to only 51% of males.

Motivations for volunteering are altruistic
Travelers looking to volunteer abroad want to be useful (most important to 38%) and have a
personal learning experience (most important to 21%), while convenience is surprisingly not
important to 48% of the respondents. In terms of activities, 62% of respondents cited they
wanted to do humanitarian work, 56% wanted to do conservation and teaching, followed by
community development at 53% and building at 28%.

Volunteers stay abroad a while
For those that have volunteered abroad, the duration of their trip tended to be longer than
expected, with 51% of respondents going on a trip for more than one month and 76% traveling
for at least two weeks.

Volunteer solo
The majority of travelers went on their trip alone (57%), 31% traveled with friends (or church
groups), and only 9% traveled with a relationship partner.

Top volunteer destinations
The top overall volunteer travel destinations were Peru (23%) and Brazil (14%).  For Americans,
the top destinations were Peru (16%) and Costa Rica (15%).

Volunteers find their trips meaningful
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents believed that their trip was very meaningful, 22%
found it was meaningful, and less than 1% felt that their trip was not meaningful in any way. A
constant battle in the voluntourism field is to effectively manage expectations of the volunteer –
the fact that almost 100% of respondents found their experience meaningful in some way shows
a major victory for the field.

Volunteer programs are not too commercial
On the subject of commercialization, 29% of respondents found that voluntourism has become
too commercialized, 23% thought that it should be more commercialized, and 48% thought the
level of commercialization was just enough. The reasons volunteers cited for wanting more
commercialization were related to the ability to recruit more volunteers to go abroad and
potentially reducing costs.

For a full report, visit

About GeckoGo

Launched in October 2008, GeckoGo is a travel planning web site that helps travelers identify
what to do and where to go based on their interests.  It is the fastest growing source of unique
user generated travel content.  GeckoGo is based in Mountain View, California and Vancouver,


Alexia Nestora
[email protected]

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.

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