Is this voluntourism?

New Lens Travel flips voluntourism on its head by sending people to learn from locals instead of parachuting in to help them. We recognize that locals are much better positioned to support their communities than we are. That’s why we focus on experiential learning and act as observers and when asked, as contributors.

As part of pre-departure training, participants learn about issues like power, privilege and oppression- which play a significant role in understanding why things are the way the are. New Lens Travel is critical of voluntourism, and we actively provide learning resources about this controversial trend.

Here are some of our favourite resources on international development, volunteering and conscious storytelling. 


Who can participate?

This program is open to anyone above the age of 18. We’re looking for participants who are socially conscious, excited about learning, and who want an alternative experience when it comes to traveling and volunteering abroad.


Do I need to have media skills?

No. New Lens Travel leverages the lens of storytelling to create learning experiences for our participants. While media is at the foundation of our placements, we see it as a learning tool rather than an outcome. When you pair up with a media professional who is capturing local voices and stories, you’re bound to pick up media skills, but this isn’t a requirement to participate in the program.


Do I need to be from Canada?

We accept international participants to our program. Our pre-departure training can be conducted online, so all participants will receive the same preparation regardless of where they’re located. Those in the Greater Toronto Area will have the option of attending the training in person. 

What can I customize about my placement?

In our participant intake process, we’ll learn about your interests and what you're looking for in a placement as well as get a sense of your personality. This will help us arrange a custom placement for you with a local media professional.

You can also customize the time of year and length of your placement. If you’re interested in going overseas as part of a gap year or academic internship, contact us to chat about how we can make this happen. 

Current accommodations are private bedrooms in shared housing with other program participants. If you prefer a homestay, this can be arranged. 


Can I fundraise for my trip?

Of course. We recognize that program fees can be a barrier to participation and we encourage you to fundraise and reach out to any networks or community groups you’re a part of to help cover these costs. Contact us for fundraising ideas and tips.


What safety precautions are in place?

We take the safety of program participants seriously. We follow travel advisories and only offer placements in regions that are deemed safe and stable. Our field staff and the media professionals we work with also inform us about local safety information.

We require all participants to have mandatory vaccinations, medications and comprehensive medical insurance for the duration of their time abroad. Because our placements are located in cities, volunteers can expect to access quality medical care if needed. 

We also have a trip leader on group trips to provide 24/7 support and act as an emergency contact. Whether you're feeling overwhelmed or homesick, your trip leader will provide support and help you make the most of your experience. 


What are the costs involved?

Please visit our How It Works page, which outlines the cost of our current program and what’s included.

We provide placements year-round. Costs are subject to the time of year and length of the placement.  Please contact us for a price quote. 


Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.