Document Type

Research Paper


Volunteer tourism, also known as "voluntourism", has become a trendy way to market to culturally and environmentally conscious travelers who seek authentic experiences instead of traditional mass tourism where travelers have little interaction with the local culture. Voluntourism aspects are being added to existing travel itineraries and entire companies have been created around volunteering to specifically target college students. This thesis seeks to examine the individual motivations of college students who have previously participated in at least one voluntourism trip, including mission trips and alternative spring breaks. The data was obtained via a series of one-on-one, in-depth post-trip interviews with program participants. After conducting interviews, the data was classified through Phillip Pearce’s travel-needs theory to determine motivation. Through exploration of previous tourism literature, as well as psychological frameworks, the two research questions that were explored were: (1) would the majority of students fall under the self-esteem/development needs category of travelers?; and (2) were the interviewees dissuaded by the possible negative effects of voluntourism? The primary motivational rungs of relationship needs, self-esteem/development, and fulfillment were observed with participants generally falling under the self-esteem category.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.