Do you want to enrich and recharge your life? Then take a volunteer vacation.

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We choose vacations for many reasons from stress reduction to rejuvenation. Maybe you’re like me. After taking what you’d hoped would be great vacation you’re left feeling empty and can’t remember the why or where you went.

 

More and more of us are looking for vacations that make us feel good and benefit the world around us. We’re finding volunteer vacations to study the environment, study and swim with the dolphins or preserve landscapes. If you search, you’ll find a selection of volunteer vacations to fit your desires and the areas and subject that are important to you.

 

Volunteer Vacation Trend is Growing

According to the Travel Industry Associations of America (TIA), more than 55 million Americans have taken some form of volunteer vacation and nearly twice as many are considering doing so. More than one in ten travelers said they were more interested in taking a volunteer vacation now compared to five years ago. A recent survey sponsored by msnbc.com and Condé Nast Traveler revealed that 20% of those polled had taken at least one volunteer vacation, and 62% more said they are likely to take one. A University of California, San Diego study reported in 2008 that roughly 40% of Americans say they are willing to spend several weeks on vacations that include volunteer service.

What to Consider before you take a volunteer vacation

USATodayvolunteertraveltips provides the following tips before you take a volunteer vacation.

Step 1

Decide what type of volunteer work you would like to do. Before determining your destination, think about what kind of volunteer work would be the most fulfilling for you. Volunteer vacations are available in areas as diverse as working in a museum to helping fight for political right

Step 2

Research a particular destination or region of the world. Some regions have a high number of volunteer positions open for particular areas and not for others. For example, those wanting to go to Africa for a volunteer vacation find that there are many positions open for health care workers, teachers and economic development specialists. For those who want to take a volunteer vacation in developed countries, such as Italy, it is easier to find volunteer work on an organic farm or in the tourist industry, volunteering in exchange for room and board.

Step 3

Check an online directory of volunteer positions in your chosen locale and area of interest. Online directories like Idealist.org and Charityguide.org host huge compendiums of volunteer opportunities around the world, organized by country and type of work. Organizations outline the requirements for each position on these websites and include instructions on applying for them.

Step 4

Contact each organization through their contact information given on the directory and submit any required information, like a resume or personal references. Be sure to include a summary of why this type of volunteer work is important or attractive to you and why you think you would be a good candidate for the position.

Step 5

Avoid middlemen organizations that charge high fees. Although some organizations that connect volunteers with volunteer positions only charge enough to cover expenses, some organizations charge high fees that are beyond what is necessary for their services. If possible, try to contact the organization that requires volunteers directly instead of dealing with a middleman organization.

Step 6

Make sure the terms of the volunteer contract are clear before accepting the position. Many volunteer positions require minimum time commitments, have specific seasons that need to be worked or require that you pay a certain fee for living expenses. Other organizations actually offer stipends to volunteers to cover basic living expenses. Make sure you understand all the terms of the contract before agreeing to become a volunteer.

Where to Start Searching Volunteer Vacations

Family volunteer vacations

Check out Larry Bleiberg’s 10 best family volunteer vacations in usatoday

Many choices for volunteer vacations

Find out how teamwork helps everyone make a mark in the world and visit globalvolunteers

Volunteer vacations to give back to others

Find out how to pay it forward by volunteering with justgive.

Final Thoughts

Okay, you’re ready for a new adventure that benefits others, but you still think you want to lounge on a beach in Oahu. Well, here it is. You can take this with you on your next volunteer vacation. Maybe it’s walking with lion? And don’t you agree that experiences live with you and enrich your life forever.

Lion walk with volunteers

Kevin Richardson takes Lions, Gabby and Bobcat out for a lion walk and the volunteers tag along as well. 

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