Honeyteering – Volunteering for Newly Married Couples
While many newlyweds spend their honeymoon backpacking through Europe or jetting off to a far away tropical location, very few kick off the rest of their lives by working in meagre conditions without pay.
But that’s changing, thanks to a growing trend amongst 21st century honeymooners called ‘honeyteering.’
Honeyteering is where just-married couples volunteer for a worthy cause in the developing world, rather than the indulgent two weeks on a beach. A growing trend in the United States, it is relatively new in the United Kingdom.
Couples who see giving back as the perfect way to start their new lives together are opting to skip the rose petals in the bath and roll up their sleeves for good causes.
The idea itself is not so radical, more and more couples (who already live together and have fully stocked homes) are asking their guests to make a monetary contribution towards a charity rather than buy gifts; so this only seems like a logical extension of the concept.
The honeymoon is also less of the romantic and sexual epiphany it once was (many couples have cohabited for many years prior to getting married) and some couples have already enjoyed numerous romantic getaways together.
Thus, it isn’t surprising some newlyweds are opting to dig a well in an African village and dine with the locals instead of the sometimes ‘overblown’ or ‘clichéd’ type of traditional honeymoon (i.e. cocktails on the beach, intimate candlelit dinners for two, etc).
CNN recently highlighted the case of Aaron and Kristen Berlin, a Massachusetts couple who dedicated their honeymoon to volunteering in a Thai orphanage. Aaron told CNN, “We learned a lot about the culture. That was one of the great things about volunteering. We were really incorporated into the daily lives of the children and the volunteers who ran the orphanage.”
Cultural immersion, camaraderie, and educational opportunities are just some of the numerous rewards associated with volunteering. Doing it with a partner can be a powerful bonding experience and a great way to learn more about each other.
Besides the numerous mental, physical and emotional benefits of volunteering, honeyteering encourages couples to explore parts of the world that they might never have experienced. On a typical honeymoon, couples tend to stick to their resort and other touristy parts of town. A volunteering honeymoon forces couples off the beaten path.
What could address the requirements of a honeymoon (i.e. something special, unique and memorable) more than a volunteering trip to some of the most beautiful and exotic parts of the world?
If you’re thinking about honeyteering, start by considering your mutual interests. From volunteering with wildlife to working in an orphanage, from construction to teaching English, there are thousands of organizations all over the world eager for help.
The first thing that you need to do as a couple is to decide which cause you wish to volunteer for. For any given cause, programs are typically available in multiple countries. There are a number of websites that can connect you with reputable volunteer organizations around the world; Volunteer Latin America, Volunteer 4 Africa, and Volunteer Work Thailand are three of them. If the destination is of primary importance (mutual interest), start searching for volunteer opportunities that match your preferences (cost, climate, dates, etc) in that particular part of the world.
Once you have chosen a volunteer vacation you need to prepare for your trip. Get your travel documents in order and check to see if any vaccinations are required. If you are volunteering in an area where the people speak a different language than you do, take some language classes or buy a language book to teach yourself the basics. Most importantly, research the culture and customs of the area you will be visiting. Some countries have much different dress codes and social customs. Failing to follow these customs can offend the local people. Remember, you can extract a lot of the information you need from the organization you have chosen to work with (i.e. culture, weather conditions, in-country travel options, etc).
Guidance to setting up your own volunteer placement can be found on the Latin Lounge.
For a newly married couple, participating in a cause greater than themselves may offer the perfect balance to their wedding. Some newlyweds find it especially meaningful to start their new lives together by giving back – dedicating time to serve the community or environment they’re visiting. There’s no better way to start a new life than to help make the world a better place.
Despite this fact some charities are opposed to the idea of honeyteering as they claim honeymoons are too short in duration to benefit local people. This is a good point but could equally apply to most short term volunteer vacations in the humanitarian sector. How can you truly help the needy and impoverished if you just turn up for a week? This is particularly pertinent to teachers, health care workers, and other professionals (i.e. it wouldn’t be beneficial for teachers to spend only a week actually involved in education). In many cases however, any help that people can provide is always useful, particularly in the form of manual labour such as digging wells or building work – this would be a completely viable way to contribute.
We recommend couples wanting to consolidate their marriage by working on something together spend at least one month on a project in the humanitarian sector but understandably this isn’t possible in all cases. It is easier to do something of value for the environment in the short term as any amount of time spent helping protect an endangered species (sea turtles) or planting trees is worthwhile.
This article should in no way discourage people who are considering a traditional type of honeymoon, after all, what you do on your honeymoon is entirely up to you. Spending two weeks relaxing and rejuvenating in an idyllic locale is a wonderful way to spend your honeymoon.