Last week we covered all the reasons why a volunteer vacation can be not just a terrific reason to travel, but a rewarding experience all together. Once you've decided that this is a trip for you, the next step is to figure out which one you're going to take. With thousands of non-profit organizations, volunteer programs, camps and more, this can be a very daunting task. If you have a program in mind or a cause you're already passionate about, then the hardest part is over, and the next step is finding the appropriate outlet to pursue that passion. If you're unsure, don't worry! Not only is there a program out there waiting for you, there is every type of genre to fulfill your needs. Maybe you want to take a family volunteer vacation or have always wanted to take a trip by yourself. Any type of travel you want is at your fingertips; all you have to do is reach for it. But in the meantime, to get those generous juices flowing, here are 5 volunteer vacations sure to pique your interest.
1. For the athlete or fitness enthusiast. Many people think that a volunteer vacation means traveling to third world countries to work, or build a house. In reality, however, there are volunteer opportunities throughout many countries, as well as all through the US, and many times, they have less to do with actual building or working and more to do with individual ways to help or promote a cause. The Braking AIDs Half Marathon in Costa Rica with Housing Works is a perfect example of this type of volunteer vacation. Head off to Costa Rica and fundraise beforehand for the half marathon that the trip is centered around. All proceeds go to Housing Works to help fight and battle AIDs and homelessness. The trip includes accommodations, meals, fundraising support and more. Sign up here. September 2014.
2. For the traveler. The Soles for souls organization collects and redistributes shoes and clothing to people who need it, but they also offer a slew of volunteer opportunities in the form of short trips to Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. During these 4 different trips, offered monthly, participants will spend the majority of their time distributing shoes and clothing to the surrounding areas and community, as well as learning about the culture. See which one appeals to you, sign up and start fundraising for your trip!
3. For the animal lover. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, the largest no kill sanctuary in the nation, provides a volunteer experience for those passionate about animals. A stay with the sanctuary involves work and activities centered around providing love, support and attention to those animals, including feeding, grooming, caring for, walking and more. Learn the importance of compassion, connect with the animals and experience an adventure, all while surrounded by the beautiful Southwest atmosphere.
4. For the Family Oriented Trip. Cross Cultural Solutions, one of the leaders of short term international volunteer travel, offers opportunities to connect all across the globe, but they also provide family options. A variety of choices, usually for children 8 and up, are offered in South Africa, Morocco and Costa Rica and allow for an entire family to experience working alongside a community, school, or culture that needs them. Having personally experienced a trip with this company, to Peru in 2007, I can attest to the fact that not only is it an amazing journey for the body, but for the mind as well.
5. For the Beach Bum. Any type of volunteer work can be rewarding, whether it's helping a community or helping restore something. Habitat for Humanity has struck a cord for many years with those eager, and able to help put together houses. And whatever your forte is, there is a cause waiting for you to help it, even if your forte is lying on the beach. Many possibilities abound, that include beach clean-up, or preservation, helping sea life and more. Adventure Life offers trips perfect for exactly this, like a Baja, Mexico vacation where volunteers spend their time kayaking and participating in a sea turtle conservation project.