5 Fantastic Ways to Make Volunteering Your Next Vacation

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A vacation is a luxury for some and an opportunity to give back for others.


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Turning your time off into a volunteer experience reframes rest and relaxation as philanthropy. There are many ways to volunteer while vacationing, so if there’s a way that you want to give back, there is a way to vacation-ize that.

Here are a few options for turning your vacation into a volunteer opportunity, based on how you want to travel and with whom you’re traveling.

1. Give back while outdoors.

Volunteer work doesn’t necessarily have to take place indoors. Some volunteer vacation opportunities are like outdoor adventures!

The American Hiking Society offers trail-building trips across the country that let you meet new people while working as a public steward in the American wild. To make the deal even sweeter, many of these trips can include travel from one campsite to another, adding a road trip to your giving back.


For an intense off-road experience, consider working with the Colorado Trail Foundation, which offers journeys over a week that tend to require a little four-wheel driving.

The Sierra Club also offers many ways to help, including volunteering on an archeological dig or clearing invasive species from an area. Appalachian Trail Conservancy seeks help to restore and enhance portions of the National Scenic Trail. And Habitat for Humanity has volunteer trips domestically and abroad to build homes and help with disaster repair in vulnerable communities.

2. See the world while lending a hand.

If it's hard for you to take a bigger trip because of a limited income, volunteering can be an easy way to get far away.


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Work through an international volunteer organization to eliminate the guesswork of connecting with those in need abroad. Groups such as International Volunteer HQ, A Broader View, Naturally Africa, and Frontier can help you help others anywhere with their vacation volunteer facilitators.

If you’re looking to get away a bit closer to home, consider a group such as First-Hand Aid, which provides volunteer opportunities in Cuba.

3. Be the lone wolf helper.

If you’re looking to make friends — or simply do a solo trek — you’re in luck.


Give Kids the World lets you be a de facto tour guide in an experience that combines Make-a-Wish magic with Disneyland whimsy. Discover Corps provides opportunities for single people to give back worldwide. And for those seeking a lifestyle change instead of simply a vacation, there’s the Peace Corps, in which you embark on a two-year service trip dedicated to a single project.

4. You can give back as a family, too.

If you’d like to pack up the family and turn a vacation into service, there are many avenues for family helping.


Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms connects farmers with families to work on small farms. Youth Rebuilding New Orleans provides young people a way to assist in the rebuilding of a city affected by natural disaster. Sandals Foundation helps you help out on tropical vacations by contributing in communities, in education, and in the environment. Give Kids the World also offers family volunteer experiences.

5. Feel free to get weird when you volunteer.

You can always make your experience more left-of-center by choosing an alternative path.


There is no shortage of things to do that help others!

6. Before you get started ...

A word of warning before you jet off for the good: Be sure to cross-reference any organizations you’re working with.

Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau Give and Charity Navigator can help verify that a group is legitimate.