This is a guest post from the wonderful and talented team at My Dog Ate My Blog. I’ve been wanting to volunteer for ages but didn’t even know where to start so thank you to Estela for writing and Emily for arranging this post!
If you are yearning for a vacation and would like to do something helpful while you're away, look into volunteer vacations. Not only will you be serving the world, but you will get the opportunity to experience something different and likely eye-opening. Save rhinos from being extinct in Borneo, build homes in third world countries with Habitat for Humanity, preserve American national parks for the posterity, alleviate the AIDS and HIV problems in Africa, or transform the agricultural system in Asia. Whatever your passion or interests may be, there is an opportunity for you to make a difference. All you need to do is browse through informative volunteer vacation sites and find a cause that gets you excited to do service.
The first thing you need to know about volunteer vacations is that you are not getting paid to go on them but are rather paying to get involved. Cost for going on these service trips range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand (for example, from $100 to $4,000). Again, this all depends on where you are planning to go and how long you are planning to stay. But know that there is always a way to lessen the challenges of funding. There are nonprofit organizations looking to sponsor interested volunteers, or at least pay for some of the expenses, so tap into these resources and see how they can help you go on these trips.
A volunteer vacation that will costs you as low as $200 and bring you into the heart of nature can be sought with Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that seeks to maintain the the U.S. national parks and forests. From the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Kenai in Arkansas or Yosemite in California to Cibola in New Mexico, parks all over the nation are within reach. You can help with revegetation projects, creating new trials, maintaining camping sites, and so much more. This will not only get you into the great outdoors but help you see the beauty of living and being in nature. You will breathe fresh air, you will marvel, and simply enjoy a more simpler life even if only for a moment.
While working is a key aspect of volunteer vacations, service work is more enriching and enjoyable than the normal work you do in your day job. You will even have some time off in the evenings and weekends to explore the land, seek out new activities, and be the kind of traveler that gets in tune with the locals and the culture of the area. You can learn to do something you have never done before, like make a hand-woven basket, or you can photograph fascinating local tourist spots. All this and more is offered to you during volunteer vacations and the more aspect is all up to you and what you make with your time.
So take that plunge and go on a volunteer vacation. These service trips will leave you with photographs, memories, and, most importantly, an experience filled with helping others and learning about yourself. You will make friends while doing work and even on your day off that may be part of your life for a long time. You may even get so hooked on service that you decide to take more volunteer vacations to different places and sometimes to the same ones.
It is adventures like these that leave you feeling rejuvenated with life. With all the hustle and bustle of twenty-first century living, vacations filled with service are the means to de-stress and give back to humanity.
Estela Go is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog.