“CareBnB”: Voluntourism 2015 and Beyond – Part 1

CareBnBAs we enter the 15th year of the 2nd Millennium A.D., we are seeing some emerging patterns across the globe. Two of these patterns – the sharing economy and the voluntourism sector – will begin to more fully integrate in the year ahead, in part because we ALL must begin to integrate our sustainability, our responsibility, our thinking, our actions, and our values more wholly and completely, or else! What will this look like exactly?

The Emergence of a Modified, More Advanced “CareBnB”

Doctors without Borders developed “Carebnb.io” to address Ebola in West Africa and launched the site in Fall 2014. However imaginative and clever the site may have been at the time, it hasn’t even come close to realizing what is waiting to emerge in this space.

Think of AirBnB merging with LinkedIn, with Doctors without Borders (and every other skilled-workers-moving-about-the-planet-to-volunteer provider), with WWOOF and with the Travel Sector. The conflation of these various approaches will introduce something we have yet to see, at least on a broad scale. What will this consist of?

Individuals will create profiles based on their combined “care” AND “travel” resumes that will be developed through the insights of LinkedIn, AirBnB,  and Doctors without Borders (and similar providers). The Travel Sector will assist individuals in maximizing their purchasing power and mitigating their currency exchange risk through assisting them in booking travel through the most cost-effective methods. The catalog of opportunities and the membership approach of WWOOF will assist CareBnB in meeting its financial obligations and sustainably supporting itself over time.

There will be three different Care-Seeking/Care-Fulfilling audiences for the future iteration of “CareBnB.” The first potential audience will be those seeking to care for a space/have a space cared for. The second potential audience will be those seeking to care for Pets/Animals and those seeking to have their Pets/Animals cared for (of course, this could be coupled with the first audience, but not all members of the first audience may have pets/animals). The final potential audience, and likely the most imaginative of all, will be those seeking to care for people and those seeking to have people cared for.

It is the latter of these that we will concentrate on for this particular post.

Why exactly?

Health Care Pressures

The economic pressures coupled with the desire for caring of those with illness will continue to move from hospitalization, in the West, to home care. Families will be caring for loved ones, and loved ones will want to be at home, rather than the sterile, depersonalized environments of many of the current facilities offered – those which must cater to governmental regulations and countless other rigorous protocols in order to even operate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsEmployment Projections 2012 – 2022,” home-based healthcare represents 2 out of the top 3 projected leading workforce increases during the decade with an estimated 1 million additional individuals filling the job titles of “personal care aides” and “home health aides” (with “less than high school” education being required to fill the positions). Some families will bypass these aides altogether, while some will solely use aide workers; others may initiate a combined approach – family members and care aides working side-by-side; still others will initiate a family & friends approach – volunteering, if you will, to care for loved ones. And, as you might have guessed, there will be another version – visitors stepping into the caregiving mix.

Social Media

Social media has opened our lives to others to inspect, to share and invest in. It has brought the sharing economy into existence because we can check on one another from long distances, without requiring the “face-to-face” or “handshake” that has traditionally brokered arrangements with others. We have more ways than ever before to conduct educated assessments of each other, to speak to one another over the internet, to email, and text. This proliferation of connectivity and greater transparency enlivens the potential for

Integration of Service & Travel

The growth of the voluntourism sector has raised our awareness to the notion that individuals truly are willing to integrate their travel and their desire to serve. What’s more, we have come to realize that this integration need not be for extended periods of time. In fact, most individuals want to do so for periods of days and weeks, rather than months or year(s).

How Will This Start?

Introducing the “Care-for-People Resume” will expand on these long-standing models of exchange – “a visitor can stay in the space if they agree to care for it and/or the animals in it.” The People-Care model will take more time to develop. The early-adopters will likely be those who are accustomed to being cared for – say high-functioning quadriplegics, as an example, and those who receive regular care via multiple caregivers. Inviting a nurse from Austria to stay with you in Arizona could serve as an extraordinary encounter for both individuals. What’s more, the individual for whom the nurse may currently be supporting in Austria, may converse with the individual with whom the nurse might stay with during his/her trip to Arizona.

Some early adopters may be former caregivers themselves, or world travelers, or those with experience in hosting visitors – exchange students, for example. The list will increase as the willingness to explore increases.

Final Thoughts…

The door has been opened to this new approach of volunteering and travel intersecting with the sharing economy. A more robust version of “CareBnB” is emerging even as we speak. It is happening in slightly varied ways around the world – Aids Hospice volunteers for example, staying with local host families. Eventually it will become even more integrated.

With the push for more unique approaches to care, and the growing demand in the Western world for the need for human care in the household space, possibilities for creativity and “new technologies” are ready for our adoption and continued evolution.

Fortunately, 2015 offers yet another reason to expand the experiment in collective human care through travel and service – “CareBnB” indeed!


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