What Is a "Volunteer-Moon" and How to Decide If You Should Take One

What sounds more appealing: Spending the days after your wedding on the beach—or using your time to help others?

Aerial view of Magashi Camp
Photo: Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

If you're looking to experience an out-of-the ordinary honeymoon, consider joining a growing group of couples who have decided to ditch the traditional post-married trip and take a "volunteer-moon" instead. This trending honeymoon type allows you and your partner to complete volunteer work while enjoying your time away together—think of it as a sort of honeymoon mission trip. Ultimately, volunteering while honeymooning, which is also known as "honeyteering," is a fulfilling opportunity to give back to a broader community as you explore the world. Here, Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group breaks down what you need to know about volunteer-moons—and how to decide if one is right for you.

What is a volunteer-moon?

A volunteer-moon is a honeymoon trip with a volunteer element; couples travel to a community where they can give back and make a positive impact. According to Avey, these days, many newylweds are choosing to put a charitable spin on the ordinary post-nuptial trip—more and more people want to contribute their time and skills in destinations that may not have every resource at their fingertips.

Charitable donations in lieu of wedding gifts are also on the rise, but volunteer-moons take this work one step further: Experiential in nature, they allow couples to physically support their ever-cherished honeymoon destination before their return home.

How do you decide if a volunteer-moon is right for you?

Do your research on the options available, then ask yourself if volunteering throughout your honeymoon is something you feel would enrich your post-wedding experience as a couple. If you're hoping to come home from your vacation with a truly unique perspective and have lifelong stories to tell, a volunteer-moon might be for you, says Avey.

Here's the best part: You can visit popular honeymoon destinations, such as Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean Islands, on your volunteer-moon. These locales, although home to hundreds of luxurious honeymoon resorts, are oftentimes poverty-stricken outside of hotel zones. This gives couples a great opportunity—especially if they are honeymooning in a nearby resort—to lend a hand at a local school, animal shelter, or food pantry. If you're on the fence about this travel type but don't think you will feel particularly enriched by the traditional honeymoon experience, consider a hybrid approach and pitch in for a portion of your trip.

Factors to consider when selecting a volunteer-moon project

Think about your respective passions and choose a project that calls to both you and your new spouse. Different projects and programs will entail different settings and levels of involvement, says Avey, so dig into each option to ensure that it checks the most boxes in terms of your desired experience—and be sure you and your partner are on the same page.

Don't forget to consider your accommodations, level of involvement, and privacy, as well as a luxury level—after all, it's still your honeymoon. Some projects will have private lodging available, while others will work to organize accommodations at a nearby resort.

You will also want to factor in the time of year you are honeymooning, as different spots will have different weather patterns throughout the year (hurricane season in the Caribbean islands, for example, runs from June to November). Try not to travel at the peak of hurricane season for safety reasons, however you could consider traveling after the blustery season is over to help with the relief efforts if needed.

Lastly, be sure you're working with a reputable organization who is putting the time and money you dedicate to the project to legitimate use.

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