09 Jul 2012 The Voluntourist: How to live a life that Matters!

As we begin our journey in South East Asia, I have been reflecting on my goals for this year. I wanted to share Ken Budd’s book, The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem. Perhaps it will inspire you to take your own trip after reading about his tales of travel:

The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem by Ken Budd starts with the line, “I want to live a life that matters,” and so he does. Inspired by the need to deal with the loss of his father, he searches for answers, but this quest requires a passport and patience. Patience to wait in line at customs, for airplanes, for young children in China and Costa Rica, for Ecuadorian birds to fly in the cloud forest, and for all things in Palestine.

During his journey, he states, “I’m not only working for free, I’m paying for the privilege.” From his first moments scraping paint and mold in the lower Ninth in New Orleans, he bemoans, “How can I live up to my father’s life when I’ll never be a father myself?”  This juxtaposition of trying to have a life with meaning, and involvement with children as a route to that meaning, are essential parts of his journey and inner monologue. Clearly enamored of his father’s life and how he managed his life and work, Budd states “It’s not even dying that bothers me. It’s dying without making a difference in the world. Without doing a damn thing that matters.” Most people want to make a difference but they have no idea where to start. Budd’s book points out that you can start anywhere on the map and even with only two weeks at a time. He is a fantastic role model for getting out there and making a difference. And his father’s death is a reminder that we all have only a limited time — at the end of our lives no one sits and thinks, “I wish I spent more time at the office.”

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Lisa Niver

Lisa Niver is a travel expert, writer, artist, entrepreneur, and on-camera host who has explored 96 countries. Niver has established a following through her written and video content, garnering over one million video views on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv and Roku. Niver is the founder of a top 100 travel blog, We Said Go Travel, that reaches more than 200,000 annually and is in the top 1/8 of the top 1% of all sites in the United States. In her tri-annual international travel writing competitions, she has published nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries. She was invited to the United Nations as a Champions of Humanity ambassador, to the red carpet at the Oscars with United Airlines and to New Orleans for a project with American Express and Starwood Hotels. Her recent stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky, skiing with the blind for Sierra and scuba diving in the Solomon Islands for Smithsonian. She also contributes to USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, the Jewish Journal and is verified on Twitter. Niver was a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and a 2014 nominee for the Charles Bronfman Prize.

1Comment
  • henry
    Posted at 09:14h, 20 October Reply

    Traveling the world is one of the best ways to live, and volunteering is even better. We need more people to give some of their time and their life to help other people around the world. life is about sharing with others as much as it is about taking care of ourselves.

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