Get Out and Give Back: Taking a Volunteer Vacation
Taking a vacation means breaking free of your daily grind. It doesn’t have to mean doing nothing, however. A growing group of conscientious individuals are selecting each year not to spend their vacations just lounging around, but instead doing something productive with their time away from work or school. These individuals are now engaging in volunteer vacations, getaways on which they help others or work to keep the environment healthy. If you want to return from vacation with not just an improved tan but also a renewed sense of self-worth and confidence, consider one of these less-common vacation options.
Mission trips are the most common form of volunteer vacations. On these vacations, groups of individuals, often sponsored by churches, visit countries in which citizens are in need of help. They provide assistance in doing everything from rebuilding homes destroyed in natural disasters to providing food or water to impoverished people. Armed with a missionary insurance policy and the desire to do right, these travelers leave lasting impacts on the lives of people they touch, making more of a difference than they ever could reading a magazine on a tourist-filled beach.
If you’re an avid hiker who appreciates the beauties of the trails that wind through natural paradises, there’s no more ideal way for you to spend your vacation than by volunteering to keep these trails pristine. Many companies in charge of keeping these miles upon miles of trails in good shape implore young trail-lovers to volunteer their time and natural energy. Sign up to join a group of like-minded individuals and spend your vacation time hiking and fixing up trails in need of a little hiker’s TLC.
Particularly if heading off on your escape shortly after a natural disaster has hit the United States, you may want to consider making your vacation one that is closer to home and designed to help those touched by this unavoidable catastrophe. After a natural disaster hits, groups such as the Red Cross mobilize thousands of workers, sending people out to help those hurt by the incident. Spend your vacation joining with others and helping out American citizens who have suffered a loss. Upon return from this experience you’ll possess a renewed appreciation for what you have and likely a feeling of pride as you’ll know you made a difference on your vacation.
Applying Specialized Skills
If you have specialized skills or training that you use on a daily basis at work, you may be ideally qualified for some specific volunteer vacation opportunities. Nurses, for example, can spend their vacations dispensing healthcare in areas where this assistance is scarce. Similarly, teachers can dedicate some of their summers to educating children in countries where free public education isn’t readily available. To ensure that you take full advantage of your unique abilities on your volunteer vacation, specifically seek out opportunities tailored to your area of expertise.
It can be tempting to take a do-nothing vacation, sitting around and relaxing the days away. Before you elect to engage in a vacation of this type, however, consider the impact that you could make by taking part in a volunteer vacation and ponder whether you’re really content to do nothing while so many are desperately in need of your help.
This is a guest post by Jessica Stark from Eat Breathe Blog. Jessica is interested in social media and environmental issues. She also enjoys learning about technology and loves spending time outdoors.