Life-changing trips change your perspective, impact your soul and enlarge your heart. This trip style is one that's less about "self" and more about "other." It's in the interest of helping the needy world around you, usually in response to a 'calling' of some sort--it's a tugging on your heart to give time and resources to those less fortunate. This is the 'benevolent' trip style, similar to 'voluntourism' but perhaps more rooted in one's constantly evolving passion to help the world's community versus a one-off trip (which is also a good thing).
I've had the privilege and opportunity of taking a few benevolent trips over the years. Whether building latrines at a World Vision camp in the Dominican Republic, helping at a clinic in Mexico or visiting my Food for the Hungry (FH) sponsor child in Peru. With each of these trips, a great irony occurred: the trip's intention was help others---and I say this next part with the utmost humility---yet I was the one who felt helped and transformed by the experience. The trips became mutually beneficial versus one-sided.
My gut feeling is that most people would be interested in helping cross-culturally in a benevolent capacity, but don't know where to start. How does one even find out about trips where they can lend their hands, energy, skill set or talents?
Finding a benevolent trip opportunity - Start with your passion (counseling, building, cooking, human rights, health, etc...) - Find an organization whose mandate shares your passion - Get to know that organization - Find out about their domestic and international opportunities
"If we open our eyes to the needs around us we will find plenty of opportunities to serve." (excerpt from a recent FH Newsletter)