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Olivia Briggs, SmarterTravel.com | January 27, 2016
Truly make a real difference by contributing to sustainable initiatives that affect food and agriculture in a community as a volunteer with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). They have programs available on organic farms in over 100 countries. As a volunteer, you’ll work four to six hours per day on the farm in exchange for food and accommodations from a host family. You’ll get a true understanding of the everyday life of an organic farmer, helping with tasks such as gardening, harvesting and milking as well as wine, cheese and bread making
Minimum age requirement in most countries is 18 to participate. You can choose to stay for one week or several months, depending on your host family
Location: worldwide options
What’s included: Food & accommodations. Flights, transportation and travel insurance must be booked independently.
Contact: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, 415-621-3276.
Volunteer at a National Park
The National Parks celebrate its 100th birthday in August 2016. Celebrate this milestone by showing your appreciation for these incredible spaces. There are over 400 National Parks to volunteer at around the country–with options such as photography, building hiking trails or working to protect endangered species. Most options are open to all ages, not overly difficult and range in length from one day to several months.
Location: North America
What’s included: most don’t include much, but check specific listings to know if meals, accommodations, etc. are included
Contact: National Park Service.
Teach your personal and professional skills abroad
Put your skills to use–whatever they may be–by teaching others with less resources. This is an incredible opportunity for professionals, or those with an interesting hobby, to visit a new place, teach their passion and connect with others so they can share that passion.
Take an ecotourism trip
With an estimated 1.6 billion eco trips expected to be taken by 2020, ecotourism is the fastest growing niche in the global travel industry. Ecotourism trips are perfect for travelers who love wildlife, adventure and nature.
GoEco allows you to choose from one of many exotic destinations throughout the world where you work on conservation projects to better natural habitats for wildlife and endangered species. Rescue sea turtles in Sri Lanka or Bali, cage dive with Great White sharks in South Africa or research orangutans in the rainforest.
Volunteers can be 15-80 years old, though some trips have a minimum age requirement of 18.
Location: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America
What’s included: GoEco has rates starting at $500. Most trips include meals, accommodations, travel and health insurance, and airport pickup. Some only include accommodations. Flights not included.
Contact: GoEco, 646-240-4545.
Teach sports in an underprivileged community
Become a mentor to children and teens from rural communities through the International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ). You don’t need to have superior athletic skills to participate–volunteers of all abilities are welcome. Trips range from one week to several months in the country of your choosing. Some trips include classroom education, too, allowing you to bond with children on an athletic and academic level.
Location: Africa, South Africa, South America and Fiji
What’s included: Rates start at $180/week with accommodations, meals and airport pick-up included. Volunteers must pay $279 registration fee to secure a spot. Flights, travel insurance and airport transfers at the end of the trip must be purchased independently.
Contact: IVHQ, 877-342-6588.
Disaster relief in Nepal
Nepal has made a major recovery since last year’s disastrous earthquake and now is the time to contribute to the ongoing relief efforts. Projects Abroad launched a disaster relief program throughout Chitwan, Kathmandu, the Kathmandu Valley, and Ghandruk, where volunteers can help restore homes, hospitals and schools as well as provide daycare to Nepali families
Volunteers are assisted by full-time local Projects Abroad staff and stay with a host family, in a hostel or on a campground. High school and college students, professionals and retirees are all welcome on Projects Abroad trips
What’s Included: Week trips start at about $2,000 with meals, accommodations, roundtrip airport transfers, work-related transportation, travel and medical insurance. Extend your trip for another week for around $300. Flights not included.
Contact: Projects Abroad, 888-839-3535.
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