Offering a great way to see and experience a different culture, a volunteer vacation can be an especially fulfilling way to spend time off. The concept's not for everyone — no four-star hotels or five-course meals — and there's service work involved, making it less of a "break," but it can be an affordable way to travel somewhere exotic and truly experience the other location separate from the confines of any resort. If this sounds up your traveling alley, there are three steps to consider before committing:
- Figure out your cause. Passionate about animals or the environment? Education or children's issues? Something else entirely? No matter the area in which you'd most like to make a difference, research an opportunity that fits it. You'll end up more satisfied if you are working for a true passion rather than picking based on a destination desire. Your duty there is to help, not to rest and relax, so do your homework for a volunteer vacation that fits your interests and location needs!
- Figure out your budget. Despite the word "volunteer," these vacations usually cost you some money. Finding a reputable volunteer vacation company (like Global Volunteers) is key — remember higher fees may mean more security and comfort in high-risk areas. As an added benefit, part of your program fees and travel expenses are tax-deductible and should go toward the organization you're helping out.
- Figure out a plan. A good resource for finding opportunities in a predetermined destination is the Volunteer Abroad section of the Transitions Abroad portal for worldwide options. It describes causes and provides tips for affordable housing if you'd like to add a volunteering portion to your regular trip, too.
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