Vacations aren't just a time for relaxation. They can be a time to learn, a time to meet new people and a time to do something good for the environment. They can also provide a great opportunity to do something you've always wanted to do.
If this is the type of getaway you're looking for, check out the following eco-focused volunteer vacations:
Maybe, since childhood, you've had a secret desire to be a scientist. As an
you can travel to the
New York City
to assist scientists with a range of research projects.
EarthWatch teams help researchers study
Trips range in length from one to three weeks and in price from $1,500 to $3,000 (meals and accommodations included).
Sierra Club Volunteer Vacations
The Sierra Club offers a variety of weeklong service outings throughout
. You can help with scientific research in
, participate in an
archaeological dig in Utah
habitat damaged by Hurricane Katrina
or build trails from coast to coast.
Trips range in price from $325 to $1,175, and accommodations range from bring-your-own-tent to dormitories and even bed and breakfasts.
While most trips are open to anyone, some are designed for
, some are
and others are designed for
travelers over 50
American Hiking Society
If your dream vacation involves hiking, try a week-long volunteer vacation with the
American Hiking Society
. Participants work with state and national parks and land trusts to build and maintain trails throughout the country, including the
U.S. Virgin Islands
Projects vary in difficulty and in accommodations (ranging from primitive tents to cabins), and participants are required to bring their own camping supplies. The host organization provides food and most offer transportation from the nearest airport. For the first trip within a calendar year, non-members pay $275 and members pay $245. Each additional trip within that year is $175.
Missed your chance to join the Peace Corps? Try it for a week or two with one of
environmental service vacations in
Costa Rica. Volunteers
can help a village in the Carara Rainforest Reserve develop a community-based ecotourism program or help a Caribbean village develop alternative livelihoods to reduce sea turtle poaching.
Each trip includes food, lodging and on-site transportation for $1,290.
Fundraising is encouraged
Kelsey Abbott is a freelance writer in Freeport, Maine, where she lives with her husband and their dog.