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Volunteer Vacations

When it comes to vacation, most people think of visiting relatives, lying on a beach or maybe a trip to Disney. But how about taking a vacation that gives back? They're called volunteer vacations.

Volunteer vacations are not for everyone, but for some people, it's just what the doctor ordered. They like new challenges along with spending their time doing things that they feel good about. They like the idea of traveling to foreign lands and working to make a difference in the lives of those who may not be as fortunate.

Using your vacation, not to relax, but to help people, care for wild animals, and helping the environment is time better spent. You may spend your time doing physical work, but just a couple of weeks working alongside other volunteer vacationers can do a world of good mentally and physically.

You can spend your volunteer vacation in the U.S. or traveling abroad. You can volunteer to work in a national forest, state or national park, on a hiking trail, beaches, or you may want to spend time working with locals in foreign countries.

Volunteer vacations often take you to locations that you would otherwise never get to see, not just in the United States, but around the world. There are so many options available that you can pick and chose to see which is best for you.

You should begin your volunteer vacation by making plans in advance. Give yourself at least a three to four month head start. Start by searching for an organization that promotes programs that you may be interested in. Most will help you with the planning and give you an insight into what is expected of you.

Some overseas volunteer programs cover costs but most require fees for services and administrative costs. You will have to pay for transportation, room and board, and your own food. Do not send money until you have chosen a project and are securing your reservation.

The organization you chose should give you access to all necessary information and most importantly, access to the programs alumni. This is helpful because you can contact others who have been through the program and they can give you some insightful tips and information that you can use.

Depending on the trip, volunteer vacations can cost anywhere from a few hundred up to thousands of dollars. Some, or all of the money spent, may be tax deductible.

Visit TransitionsAbroad.com and Idealist.org for more information about volunteer vacations.

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