You’re craving adventure, experiences, foreign shores. But you can’t rationalize a week on a beach in this economy. (No way to hide Turks and Caicos airfare in your expenses. Or hide it from Mr. Visa.)
But if you opt for a volunteer vacation, you can see the world as you help make it a better place.
Channel your moxie into unforgettable people and places via Roadmonkey, a grassroots upstart founded by a New York Times correspondent. Expeditions delve deep: The June trip combines a seven-day trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro with painting classrooms and building a clean water system at a school for kids orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Karma points: 1,000.
If you’re a sucker for the animals, sign up for Inside/Out’s excursion to Zagoria, a Greek holiday spot popular with locals, to help the area’s neglected dog population. Pooches benefit from a spay/neuter program and medical care; travelers get an ecotour of the surrounding mountains on foot and by water. Above and beyond dedication: Adopt a mutt and bring him home.
For years we’ve been dreaming of joining Relief Workers International on its medical trips through India. The work: helping doctors provide medical care to hundreds of people in several different villages. The rest: Accommodations are comfy tents in breathtaking surroundings with visits to ancient towns and old forts. The site will soon list upcoming trips; in the meantime, reading about the work is singularly inspiring.
Double your do-gooding: Invite your big-hearted friends to come with you.