Want to come home from your honeymoon with more than a tan and awesome Instagram images? Then you might be considering a volunteer honeymoon, in which newly wed couples contribute their time and skills on adventurous travels around the world.
"A volunteer honeymoon is not for everyone," admits Heilwig Jones, director of Kaya Responsible Travel, "but there are a surprising range of options that are perfect for many."
Love the outdoors? You've got options such as "reef conservation or working on a lion-breeding program," says Jones. Passionate about culture? Consider working with communities in Goa, South Africa, or Belize where vibrant histories and traditions prevail. The point is, "choosing a volunteer honeymoon should not limit your choice [of location] at all," Jones says.
But if you want privacy no matter your locale, beware: "Some organizations and locations are not always able to cater for the special needs of a couple — providing a private room, for example," says Jones. Be sure to ask up-front how many people will share the accommodations provided and if private rooms are available — and then be prepared to pay extra for those amenities.
And just as honeymoon costs vary wildly depending on the season, location, and activities you select, so too can volunteer honeymoon prices fluctuate from relatively inexpensive to jaw-droppingly costly. They also come with an added concern: You must make sure the money you're contributing toward your trip is actually benefitting the work you're doing and the community you plan to serve.
"Working with a reputable volunteering program provider will ensure that the project you work on is genuine and the work you are doing is real," Jones says. Also, avoid "'drop-in' options sometimes offered by holiday companies and hotels that provide a day at an orphanage or hug-an-animal experience, but which have no real benefit at all," she says.