By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: More and more I see a growing interest in helping others when traveling. It is sort of turning into a working holiday. A friend of mine went as part of a church group to install a water treatment plant in Africa. She’s also studying about third world development in university. How can I contribute? I really don’t want to spend another vacation at an all-inclusive.

A: You are like a growing number of people who wish to volunteer while on holiday. Sometimes you might here the phrases “volunteer vacation” or “voluntourism.” I came across a Travelocity poll that recently showed 38 per cent of their respondents are planning some portion of their vacations this year to volunteering.

For the eco-conscious and socially conscious types, these are people who wish to improve their environment or global communities, the Travelocity poll reports 80 per cent of their respondents are willing to spend more on an eco-friendly destination or business.

For organizations that have a volunteer vacation component or specialize in voluntourism, here’s a quick list: has a list of volunteer travel options. Be sure to check out the new brochure, Gap Adventure Worldwide for a variety of packages.

Travel journalist Alison Gardner writes frequently on this growing topic. You can check out her ezine at Lonely Planet published its first volunteer-travel guidebook last June called “Volunteer: A Traveler's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World” by Charlotte Hindle, Nate Cavalieri, Rachel Collinson, and Korina Miller.

And lastly, visit Habitat for Humanities or Around since 1976, this international NPO reports its organization has built over 125,000 homes worldwide for families in need.


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