Anyone can take a vacation, but not everybody can say they took a trip that changed the lives of others and their own. Giving back while on vacation is a more popular, frugal and amazing experience than you would think. There are hundreds of organizations and volunteer groups around the country that make this happen. Here is a list of 6 incredible organizations that are truly worth looking into.
BridgeVolunteers is an organization that connects volunteers to meaningful community projects across the globe. It offers language immersion and lessons, as well as a chance to teach English globally. The program is large, safe and efficient, and offers trips to over a dozen different countries including Argentina, Zambia, South Africa and China.
Established in 1948, Servas is a global cooperative cultural exchange network that connects travelers with hosts. It is an international community based organization that is recognized in over 150 countries. While it does not offer volunteer programs, it is a chance for travelers to stay with a host, who will show them around their destination. It is a community network of friends that can make your next trip that much more interesting, and cheap to boot!
Cross Cultural Solutions
CCS is a non-profit organization that aims to address large global issues through organized volunteer projects. It has been around for 18 years, and has done a substantial job helping out local economies. Some of the issues that they address include supporting HIV/AIDS patients, aiding the elderly and disabled, teaching and nurturing children and enhance the quality of healthcare. CCS operates in ten countries, and has a staff of over 300, which makes the organization a great way to make a huge difference on a safe and guided trip. Trips range for a week to a whole summer or extended stay, and a great option for a family or individual.
CulinaryCorps is a unique service organization designed for culinary professionals. Founded in 2006 by Christine Carroll, CulinaryCorps offers short food-focused trips that aim to enrich the lives of communities through great food. Projects have included bringing a “Healthy Food Fair,” to New Orleans schools, starting an after-school program for The Boys and Girls Club. In addition, CC gave cooking lessons and created new menu items for Bill’s Kitchen, a program that provides hot meals for those living with AIDS/HIV in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
WWOOFing is a global volunteer organization that connects willing volunteers with organic farms around the world. This network allows for those who want to travel to connect with a rural farm in the country of your choosing. The trips are usually longer, but even a two week stay of living off the land, and learning to work on a farm is a truly invaluable experience. No experience is needed but the volunteer is encouraged to come ready to work hard and connect with the land.
Conservation Volunteers International Program
Conservation VIP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to sustain the world’s greatest landscapes and cultural sites. The organization is large, and entirely volunteer based and run by a group of environmentally savvy board of directors. Trips include visiting and maintaining Machu Pichu, Yosemite National Park and Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.