Recommendations for International Group Alterna-Trips
April 18, 2006 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for organizations/agencies that arrange group international travel.

Recently a Belgian colleague of mine told me of a trip he took to Dakar, Senegal, with a group of 18-35 year olds. The trip was arranged by a Belgian expatriate and she saw to it that they saw the “real” lives of Dakar citizens and surround them in the local culture. They stayed in very modest accommodations, without luxury. This intrigued me and has made me interested in similar travel opportunities.

I am a single, 26 year old, American male with a corporate job that gives me two weeks vacation. Being that I’m by myself, and don’t have friends with vacation time, I’ve always had a hard time deciding what to do with my vacation time. I’m not really interested in traveling someplace to experience it alone. So, being part of a group of similar aged people would be ideal.

I’m very open to almost any destination and have a flexible budget. I’m not looking for a standard touristy, “get on the bus to see the next site” type of tour. I would seriously consider donating my time to a charitable organization of sorts, but would ideally like to avoid political and/or religious based programs. For what it’s worth I have traveled internationally a few times (so I have some experience) and am only fluent in English.

I appreciate any information you can provide me; experiences you’ve had, organizations you or friends have been involved with in the past, links you can pass on, etc. I’ve read and bookmarked these threads, but I am interested in seeing what other options are out there. Thanks in advance.
posted by bwilms to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm generally against tours organized by companies because they tend to be exactly what you described. If you're not into solo independent travel and have a desire to help out somewhere that needs it, you should check out idealist.org. You'll certainly meet like-minded people your age, and unlike a tour they'll probably be from all over the world. You'll also have a lot more freedom.

Don't worry about the "only fluent in English" thing. I am too and have been to a lot of weird, remote places, and while it can be frustrating at times (most of the time, actually), it's never as big as an obstacle that everybody seems to think it is.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2006


Up With People isn't a vacation; you will be kept busy with community service, regional learning (learning about your host communities through various means), projects, host family living, travel (22 cities, 10 countries), and performance. But it's an EXCELLENT experience in learning about cultures and getting involved in the community.

You travel with a group of around 80 people 18-29 from around the world, going to 22 cities in the US, Japan, and Europe. You spend about a month of orientation in Denver, then you spend a week in a different city onwards. During the week you will work on community projects (which run the gamut from education to environment to homeless issues to all sorts); learn about your region through lectures, tours, or fun activities; work on internships or personal projects; and put on a performance combining music and culture. You don't have to be an expert at performing; it's not complicated and you get to share parts of yourself too.

It's a semester long, and costs US$11800, so I don't know if it fits your time range. But it's an amazing opportunity, it really broadens your mind to so many things, and it's worth a look.

(If you're worried about its rep: UWP isn't connected to any religion or political party or whatever. They are actually amazingly liberal nowadays considering their conservative past - openly gay members, people from all sorts of faiths, learning and living with different lifestyles. You can be who you want to be, and that's fine.)
posted by divabat at 7:22 AM on April 19, 2006


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