Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: The Voluntourist

It's been ages since I've done a TLC Book Tour - but when I saw a travel memoir on the list of options, I couldn't resist!  The Voluntourist, by Ken Budd, is about a man who sort of going through an existential crisis after the death of his father...  He starts to compare his life achievements to the achievements of his father, who was a very well-respected and admired man, and realizes he needs to find some meaning in his life. Additionally, his wife has made the final decision that she does not want to have children, so in addition to trying to make a difference in the world, he also embarks on this journey through 6 countries (USA (post-Katrina), China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the West Bank, and Kenya) in an attempt to fill the void of a childless life.

I really enjoyed this book.  I think most of us can relate to that burning question of 'what am I meant to do with my life?' and maybe we feel guilty that we aren't making much of a difference in the lives of others in our careers.  That is the case for me as my job does not make anyone's life better, so I have to rely on volunteering in my free time to get that sense of fulfilling/leaving the world a better place. I actually recently talked to a co-worker who did her own little 'voluntourist' trip to a country in South America.  She said it was a wonderful experience as she got away for awhile (during our bitterly cold winter) and got to feel like she was making a difference in the life of another person - and, might I add, the trip was tax deductible.  I'm a finance person, I couldn't leave that out!  ;)  I would love to try to do that one of these years, I just need to plan it out so I will have enough vacation time.

All in all, it was an intriguing book. Some of the sections of the book drug a bit for me (China and the West Bank) and I wished that the Kenya section would have been a bit longer, but in general I enjoyed it, and it makes me want to do my own voluntourist trip.

Have you ever travel abroad and volunteered?  Would you ever want to?  Any country in particular you'd live to visit?  I would want to go to Costa Rica, or maybe a Central or South American country.  
I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.  I was not compensated for this review, and the opinions are my own.   

12 comments:

Lisa-Marie said...

I was signed up to teach in Africa just before I moved to Paisley originally. I am still part of the program, so I'll go one day! For the moment my volunteering is local :)

This book looks really good! I enjoy memoirs generally, so I'll add this to the list. :)

Lisa-Marie said...

I was signed up to teach in Africa just before I moved to Paisley originally. I am still part of the program, so I'll go one day! For the moment my volunteering is local :)

This book looks really good! I enjoy memoirs generally, so I'll add this to the list. :)

Melissa said...

I've REALLY been wanting to read some travel stories recently! This one sounds really interesting, especially because of the volunteering aspect which is always something that has intrigued me. Plus, Kenya? Awesome! Great review! :) Have you read any other good travel biographies, by the way? If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

Marlys said...

I admire people who do these volunteer trips! But there are lots of volunteering projects near by, but because you love to travel, I can see you enjoying this experience!

Stephany said...

I have wanted to do a short-term missions trip for a very long time, just never had the guts to actually do it! But I'd love to travel to Africa for missions because I think it would be such an eye-opening, life-changing experience.

Sounds like a great read! I work for a non-profit so it can be amazing to see the differences my company makes but it's hard because I'm in the background of it all. I would love to do something more hands-on!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

This is definitely on my list of things to do. I think a volunteering trip would be very rewarding and I also think volunteering in our own communities is important and rewarding. Definitely something I want to do more of!

Nora said...

That's so neat! My good friend Kelly was supposed to go to Africa this past winter but due to the travel restrictions had to cancel her trip. It was for volunteering at an orphange, too. She was totally bummed.

I think I'd be happy to go do Costa Rica or some place in South America. I'd love to go to Cuba, too, if we could...!

Kelly said...

Costa rica would be a gorgeous place to do something like this! I may want to read this book it sounds good. However. I don't think I'm the volunteering trip type, I feel like I make a good difference in my career so I kind of want my vacations to be fun and relaxing time... I might change my mind at some point though

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I did some volunteering in Bolivia, which was very fun. However, since you do have to pay, sometimes it feels like all they really want is your money and the time you put in is not really making a difference.

I enjoyed the book, mostly because some of the things he mentions (the playing baseball with the kids in Costa Rica, the frustrations of not having guidance sometimes, the frustration of not knowing the language) are so true to traveling in general and volunteering as well!

Jeanie said...

This is fascinating, Lisa. I haven't heard of this book, but I would think that it would be pretty amazing to do this sometime. It may be a book I look at to share with my book club next time.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I would love to travel abroad to volunteer!!! I would want to go to somewhere in Africa or Asia.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I love that this book inspired you - hopefully you can build up enough vacation to do your own version of the trip one of these days!

Thanks for being on the tour.