What is rural tourism and what are its benefits?

Rural tourism means travelling to non urbanised places with low population. An incredible chance to connect with local communities, support them and immerse yourself in their local culture.

A truly authentic and raw way to travel, rural tourism is on the rise, as more people seek tranquility and unique travel experiences. 

What is rural tourism and what are the benefits? 

Rural tourism is a form of tourism that goes beyond city breaks and popular tourist attractions.

Rural tourism is travel to natural places that are non-urbanised, often rely on agriculture and with low populations, such as villages and cottages, homestays, farms, and ranches or eco lodges. 

Possible sctivities when rural travelling are camping, hiking, outdoor sports and spending time connecting with the nature. 

It is related to ethical and sustainable tourism, travelling off the beaten path, outdoor activities and sports and spending time in nature. It has a great potential to make the travel more responsible and richer in experience.

When travelling in rural areas the traveller really gets to observe the local life, stay away from crowds and touristy prices, and grasp the benefits of being outdoors.

In developing countries, rural tourism has a great importance. It brings profit directly to families living in rural, otherwise non touristic, distant locations. It also brings opportunities for development. In developed countries it allows for relaxation and rest from otherwise busy lives. In any country, it helps to reduce bad effects of over tourism.

What are the different types of rural tourism?


This is travel to natural areas whilst being sustainable, responsible, and mindful of our impact on the host community and the planet.

This type of travel includes staying in eco lodges or eco hotels or other accommodations that use renewable energy.

It takes place in non-urban locations such as mountains, forests, or watersides, eco-tourism is a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature and travel off the beaten path.

This is a great option for all thatcare about the planet and that try to leave as least of negative impact as possible. 

Community based tourism

Community tourism is focused on spending time with the locals. This is achieved by staying in guesthouses in rural locations, often with families that are underprivileged or/and marginalised.

This enables cultural exchange for both sides. Community based tourism is a great concept for the hosts, as it not only allows them to broaden their horizons by making connections with people from all over the world, but also creates jobs and motivates the society to learn new skills and languages.

In this scenario, money made from tourists stays in the community and allows for development and other projects that will benefit the whole community.

Environmental volunteer tourism 

Being an environmental volunteer means giving back to the earth. It could include gardening, planting plants or trees, conservation, bio construction, clean ups and recycling and more.

An environmental volunteer leaves a positive impact and expands their environmental consciousness. Perfect concept for all nature lovers. 

Volunteering with Worldpackers is a great start, as even if you do not have much gardening experience you can still sign up to projects, and you will learn on the job!

Read this article to find out more about the Worldpackers experience. 

Outdoor sports tourism  

Myself practising rural tourism: hike to a volcano lake

Outdoor adventure tourism takes place in non-urbanised areas such as mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts, or other remote, distant places.

The outdoors offers many different activities such as: bikepacking holidays in the countryside, multiday hikes in the mountains, rock climbing, summiting volcanoes, kayaking, rafting and many, many more!

This is type of rural tourism is a great way to be more active, step out of your comfort zone and try new things! 

Check out this article on how to prepare for your next adventure!

Where to go for rural tourism?

To really get to know the local life, consider staying for longer and volunteering with Worldpackers.

This is an incredible opportunity to really get to know the place, live like a local, be a part of your host family, learn more about the local culture and history, and learn new skills!

The United Kingdom

Rural village in the UK

With 15 National Parks and 38 AONBs, the United Kingdom is the perfect destination for rural tourism.

There are opportunities to practise adventure sports in every park. UK’s National Cycle Network spreads all over the country and allows access to many rural areas that are rich in culture, history, and wonderful, unique landscapes. The British countryside is full of small villages with warm and welcoming communities. 

There are over hundred volunteering opportunities all over the United Kingdom! That includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland!

  • If spending a month living in rural Scottish village in exchange of some gardening work, sounds like a dream to you consider applying today! 
  • If you are an animal lover and would like to explore the local life in Wales you can help at this small and vegan animal sanctuary.
  • For those that are inspired to learn more about permaculture and natural farming, and would like to take care of small animals, you can apply for this experience in Northern Ireland. This project will expand your environmental consciousness and allow you to immerse in the local culture and the small, warm communities of rural Northern Ireland.
  • There are also opportunities available for those that prefer to be social and enjoy working with people. This hotel in the New Forest National Park, England is looking for volunteers that will take care of their guests. This opportunity is excellent for travellers that enjoy connecting with the locals, or would like to improve their English.


Colorfully dressed women from a rural community in India

With 64.61% of the country considered rural, India is another great destination for rural tourism.

Travelling through rural India is an authentic and raw travel. This is where a traveller can really get to see the local life. Learn more about life in India and the struggles of Indians living in rural areas, that are often, unfortunately affected by poverty. Sacrifice some of your time to help local communities or the planet, by volunteering with Worldpackers in India.

  • Stay in the heart of the tea plantations and hills, and spend your time at a charity home for underprivileged people of all ages from India. Volunteer’s task include gardening, watering, teaching, housekeeping or nursing.
  • Explore the rural Indian Himalayas whilst volunteering with a local NGO. When volunteering at Rural Organisation for Social Elevation you will get the chance toimprove the health and education of underprivileged population of the area.
  • If you want to learn more about sustainable living whilst living on farm full oftea plantations, coffee beans, pepper, cardamom, and fruits, consider this opportunity in rural India. This is a perfect location for those that like peace and tranquillity and spending time in the nature.


Rowboats in a turquoise lake sorrounded by mountains and pine trees

The USA is home to some of the most popular and most beautiful National Parks in the world. With 63 of them in total, and a lot of rural states, the USA is a country full of opportunities to practise rural tourism and volunteer at the same time. 

  • You can spend your time doing organic farming in the Matanuska Valley of Alaska. This is an incredibly beautiful part of this rural state, and this project will allow you to connect with nature and expand your environmental consciousness.
  • If you prefer to be warm, you can help with gardening in the Arizona desert. This activity helps to mitigate the impacts of the changing climate.
  • Live the ‘Wild West’ experience and help with daily activities at a ranch in Texas. Activities include taking care of animals, growing food all whilst living with a local family.
  • If your dream is explore the gorgeous Hawaiian state, you should consider becoming a farming helper on a sustainable and organic farm in Hawaii. A fantastic opportunity to learn more about sustainability, connect with nature and explore Hawaii on a budget.
  • Learn more about regenerative farming, tree corps and gardening when volunteering in a small village in Ohio. Great way to give back to nature, and connect with the local communities.

Read about the experience of traveling in the USA as a work exchanger in this article.

Here I mentioned some opportunities in the UK, India and USA, but there are tons of projects of rural tourism to volunteer around the world.

Men working in a rural field with a buffalo

Rural tourism, when well-managed, can really be successful and beneficial for local communities and the traveller. However, there can be some negative impacts of rural tourism that are worth mentioning.

Some areas are not prepared or educated enough to host tourists. This can cause damage to the environment or directly to the communities. Most troubling negative effect of rural tourism is that it can increase housing prices and other living costs for the local communities. If badly managed, it can cause overcrowding and damage to the natural area. 

Hopefully this article has inspired you to widen your horizons and go beyond the tourist trail. Be a conscientious traveller and give back to the planet and hosts on your next trip by volunteering with Worldpackers. 

Fuente: https://www.worldpackers.com