Volunteer Vacations - Give, Enjoy, and Rejuvenate All At Once

When the term "vacation" comes to mind, the immediate, gentle relaxing of my shoulders and a deeeeeep breeeeaaaath ouuuuut is a typical reaction.
We all need times of retreat to rejuvenate and gain perspective outside of the day-to-day rush.  Vacations, however, don't have to be expensive excursions or complete disconnections from society.  Sometimes the most restful and rewarding vacation you can take is a volunteer vacation.

Volunteer vacations come in MANY shapes and sizes.  Some are solely focused on the volunteer activity of choice while others are include just a day of giving back in between your beach lounging or sightseeing.  My first volunteer vacation was in college.  I joined several other college students on a trip to Madrid, Spain where we helped support a local non-profit organization looking to grow their connections with college students on nearby campuses.  Not only did I walk away with the amazing memories and experiences of visiting a new place, I was refreshed at a deeper level knowing that I gave of my time and talents in a way that was helpful and carried a lasting impact.

Here are just a few volunteer vacation resources:
  • www.GlobalVolunteers.org - This company was one of the first of its kind and offers both USA and international opportunities.  While you pay for your stay, they provide a great deal of support in making sure your vacation meets your goals and the needs of the causes you serve.
  • www.WWOOF.org- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offers volunteers free stays with host families/farms in exchange for learning about their farming practices and intimately interacting with the culture of the country you choose.
  • www.GlobalGiving.com - Search for projects by area and either choose to donate money to a cause near your vacation spot, or call the project(s) to see if they need volunteers during your stay. 
  • Check with your local faith/religious community to find potential mission trips that match your volunteer interests.
If you already have a vacation on the books, not to worry!  Many accommodations offer volunteer opportunities to their guests; just call ahead and ask their concierge if there are options already available through your hotel.

These are only a few examples of ways you can take your well-earned time off and give to others while treating yourself to the lasting benefits that come from selfless giving.

Have you participated in a volunteer vacation?  What other organizations support this type of travel?  Please share below!
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Disclaimer:  I have not personally used nor do I hold any accountability for the use of the organizations listed above. Google