September 25, 2023   7:14pm

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So many people seem to be surprised at all the wonderful opportunities there are to travel, pursue a passion and give back — all at the same time. Our “Travel “advisor Susan fills us in on all the ways to find just the right place for YOU (or your kids of all ages) …

Images of volunteers building houses for Habitat for Humanity remind us that time away can be spent helping others as well as opening our eyes to the needs of people and places that are different from our own. Volunteer opportunities abound, both here in the U.S. and worldwide, and they cover a range of opportunities. You might be able to pursue a dream…try your hand at an archaeological dig…help to restore wetlands — the possibilities are endless.

Charity Guide:
Lists volunteer vacations by cause, such as animal welfare, children, environment, etc. and shows you the available programs covering a wide range of interests. Examples: teaching math to students in Africa, helping research scientists save sea turtles, digging for dinosaur bones, and much more. They don’t organize volunteer travel, but will point you to groups who do.

Global Volunteers:
Volunteer opportunities worldwide for solo travelers, families, students. Activities include painting and repairing buildings, teaching English and more. Note that you will pay for your volunteer vacation at Global Volunteers, but this will cover your lodging, local transfers, and support from an on-site staff. Free time for you to explore the area in which you are volunteering is part of the package.

Volunteer Abroad:
This site is a search engine for volunteer opportunities offered by others worldwide. You can link into sites such as: Cross Cultural Solutions, Volunteering Solutions, Projects Abroad, and many more. Both short term and longer terms opportunities are listed, and in most cases the host organization provides lodging, food, etc. for a fee.

Conservation Volunteers:
Provides opportunities to volunteer in local conservation efforts, such as reforestation work, in U.S. and overseas — from California to Madagascar and South Africa. Uou will pay to be part of the program, and the price includes accommodation, meals, local transportation, program administration, etc.

Sierra Club:
Sierra Club organizes about 90 “service trips” a year as part of their “National Outings” program – their term for volunteer vacations for both solo travelers and families. Examples include: bridge building, trail building, habitat restoration, and more — from Lake Superior to the Grand Canyon to Santa Catalina Island in California with numerous points in between. If you are interested in working in the wilderness, also check out Wilderness Volunteers with similar project offerings.

Habitat for Humanity’s web site lists their “Global Village” volunteer projects — both local and global. Destinations for one to two week programs include Ethiopia, India, Mongolia, Thailand, China, Romania, Argentina, and Mexico as well as the U.S. There are youth programs listed as well.

Provides links to volunteer opportunities in archaeology, including to the Archaeological Institute of America’s sub-section on Fieldwork Opportunities. You can help excavate a Roman Villa in Bulgaria or help with Mayan excavations in Belize, among other opportunities.

More volunteer opportunities:
As always, the web is a great place to start your search. You may also want to get the book: “Volunteer Vacations: Short Terms Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others” available from Amazon.


Be sure you have an understanding of what support you will get from the hosting organization while volunteering — lodging, food, local transport, etc. and ask for references from past volunteers if you have any concerns. Since you may be going to out-of-the-way locations, make sure you have the right visas and inoculations.

We’d love to hear from those of you who have tried a Volunteer Vacation. Share your experiences with us at!


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