Making service vacations part of New Year's travel resolutions
By Georgina Cruz, Special Correspondent
This is the time of the year to start making some resolutions for 2015, like perhaps losing weight or quitting smoking. For those who would also like to make some New Year travel resolutions, here is an idea: a volunteer vacation.
Participants in this type of trip, sometimes called “voluntourism,” have opportunities to mix with the locals in many countries, living and working in communities on a variety of projects and activities –from teaching English to caring for youngsters in orphanages and from taking part in community improvement projects to assisting in conservation efforts. The experience gives the opportunity, as one organization put it, “to see the world through a new lens.”
Trips are generally short-term: one-, two- and three-weeks in length, though some companies can arrange for longer service periods. Typically, no prior experience is necessary to participate.
Here are some offerings for those who would like to volunteer during their vacation to make a difference in other people’s lives. Prices for the trips vary; contact the organization for details (and costs may be tax deductible –check with the company and double check with your accountant).
· Globe Aware Adventures In Service – This is a non-profit that has been developing short-term volunteer programs internationally for 15 years. The trips provide opportunities for people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. Activities are intended to promote cultural awareness and/or sustainability. Recognizing the beauty and challenges of a culture and helping others to stand on their own two feet, teaching them skills rather than reliance. The organization’s criteria for choosing projects include trips that are safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and that involve significant interaction between participants and the host community.
Optional cultural excursions are available on every program. Among the organization’s service trips in 2015 are programs to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru, near the legendary Lost City of Machu Picchu, as well as projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala and many other destinations. Info: www.globeaware.org.