Posted on March 27, 2018
Tuesday Tip: How to Take a Volunteer Vacation – The Alternative Spring Break
How to Take a Volunteer Vacation – The Alternative Spring Break
What’s your goal when you travel? Taking selfies – or is it finding yourself? If you’re in search of meaning more than museums, try a volunteer vacation this spring. Research wildlife in Nepal, build housing in Trinidad and Tobago, or restore a bird habitat on the Big Island in Hawaii. You’ll learn about the local people, do meaningful work and meet other travelers like you.
Take a trip, make a difference and come home with experiences that will never leave.
A lot of people are doing it. Service travel is now the second-fastest-growing travel sector, after adventure travel. Many of these travelers are young people, but many are also families, career-breakers and retirees.
If you do choose to volunteer on your next vacation, you’ll need assistance from people who specialize in service travel. You can’t just show up and offer to pitch in. Luckily, there are a lot of organizations that arrange volunteer vacations.
Choosing one that suits you will require research. But here are three reputable groups to get you started.
Earthwatch Expeditions take you into the field with respected scientists who are investigating urgent environmental issues. You’ll make a make a personal contribution to the research while experiencing the nature and culture of your destination. Expeditions cover four areas of interests: wildlife and ecosystems, climate change, archeology and culture, and ocean health. Choices this year include exploring lions and their prey in Kenya, rewilding the Scottish Highlands and studying orcas in Iceland.
You have no doubt heard of Habitat. You may not know that the organization offers opportunities to build or improve housing, schools, clinics and other essential structures in 40 countries around the world. You can help build a house or make minor home repairs. You can assist with disaster recovery or join an energy-efficiency project. You’ll experience another country and meet other volunteers from many different nations.
Sierra Club arranges around 90 enjoyable, affordable volunteer trips each year. They involve hands-on conservation work like building and maintaining trails, removing invasive plants and assisting on archaeological digs. You’ll meet the people who know the local area best – forest service and park rangers. Most trips also include free time for hiking and exploring. Opportunities this year include park maintenance in Hells Canyon, Idaho (with transportation by jet-boat up the Snake River Canyon), forestry service at the New York Botanical Garden (a 50-acre urban old-growth forest) and native-bird habitat restoration on the Big Island of Hawaii (with hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park).
We hope this list will inspire your travel plans and encourage you to make a real difference during your next vacation. And, if you’re not already a member, we hope you’ll consider CREDO, the mobile carrier that empowers you to make positive change in the world every day, just by using your phone.