|Abstract or Summary
- The objective of this research is to shed light on the phenomenon of independent
volunteer traveling. It represents a form of tourism in which travelers independently organize
their own volunteer efforts and typically provide assistance to local people in return for room and
board. Travelers operate outside the confines of formal service organizations and various tourist
groups, in conditions of close cross-cultural contact, often teaching and providing manual labor.
They live with locals, speak the local language, use the same amounts of economic and natural
resources that locals use, and eat, sleep, bathe and work in the same fashion as the local people
do. Because this type of tourism takes place in remote Himalayan villages that are not in touristed
areas, social arrangements are based on local tradition and culture, rather than on external forces.
This research specifically links independent volunteer traveling with sustainable tourism
development by examining its impacts. For instance, the majority of travelers in the study helped
to create additional sources of income for local people by donating animals and land to families,
which helped hosts to improve their living standards and boosted local economies in remote
Himalayan regions, contributing towards the development of Nepal's rural communities. In
addition, because of the many opportunities offered by this type of tourism, Nepali women were
encouraged to eat with their families, get married at a later age, get an education and be treated
more fairly in family situations, which contributed towards improving the status of women.
The evidence of this research also indicates that there is a complex dynamic present in
the interaction between hosts and guests when giving and receiving activities are examined. In
particular, a sense of mutual interdependence and equality were maintained between hosts and
guests, because no matter who was giving and who was receiving, both parties continued to feel
they received more than they were able to give. Because of the joy and meaning it added to their
lives, this aspect of the experience had the most profound effect on both hosts and guests, and
made this form of tourism stand out against comparable cross-cultural encounters.
In an era searching for improved forms of international relations, this kind of travel poses
an interesting alternative, because it depends solely on the opportunity for travelers to contribute
to the host culture and on the development of meaningful cross-cultural relationships.