Opportunities abound worldwide to travel, volunteer at the same time
Seattle Times Travel writer
If you're interested in combining travel with volunteering, there are programs worldwide, including in the United States.
For many, participants need no special skills beyond goodwill and an open mind. Others look for people with practical skills.
Here are some ways to start getting information on volunteer vacations:
• The International Volunteer Programs Association includes information about nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations. Its Web site, www.volunteerinternational.org, has links to membership organizations (including some listed here) and a useful search engine by destination or activity.
• The book "Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others" by Bill McMillon (Chicago Review Press, $16.95) contains descriptions of volunteer vacations and lists almost 300 organizations.
• Religious organizations offer volunteer opportunities worldwide. Churches or temples can provide detailed information about their volunteer programs and missions, but useful Web sites include:
— The Catholic Network of Volunteer Service, www.cnvs.org, with lists of hundreds of organizations and a useful search engine. The St. Vincent Pallotti Center, www.pallotticenter.org, has links to more than 160 Catholic organizations.
Following are some specific volunteer agencies. Most are nonprofit, nonreligious, nongovernment groups that offer short-term vacations of a week to a month.
Fees vary, depending on the accommodations and services provided to volunteers (from bare-bones to comfortable). Transportation generally is not included.
American Hiking Society, 800-972-8608, www.americanhiking.org. One- and two-week camping trips to preserve trails. Cost is $80, plus $20 membership.
Amizade, 888-973-4443, www.amizade.org. Community-service projects in Asia, Australia, South America and the United States, based on the needs of the community — from the construction of schools to making orthopedic shoes in Brazil.
CARE, 877-CARE-VOL, www.careusa.org/getinvolved/volunteer/. Founded in 1945 to provide humanitarian aid after World War II, CARE is one of the largest private relief organizations. It runs volunteer programs in Peru ($2,500 for three weeks), providing health care, help in orphanages and more. It plans to expand elsewhere in Latin America.
Council on International Educational Exchange, 888-COUNCIL, us.councilexchanges.org. Extensive volunteer programs aimed at college students, also some for high-school students. Fees from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for programs that range from protecting sea turtles on the Mexican coast and building a playground for inner-city kids in Wales to teaching English in China.
Cross-Cultural Solutions , 800-380-4777, www.volunteerworkabroad.org. Two- to 12-week humanitarian trips in eight countries, including working with women's groups in India and malaria screening in Ghana. Fees run $1,500 to $4,000.
Elderhostel, 877-426-8056, www.elderhostel.org. Service programs for senior travelers in the United States and abroad. Programs range from tutoring on the Navajo reservation in Arizona to historic-building preservation in the Caribbean. Multi-generation trips are sometimes available. One- to three-week trips cost from about $600 to $2,000.
Global Citizens Network , 800-644-9292, www.globalcitizens.org. Tolerance and peace-related cultural trips in Africa, Latin American and among Native American tribes. Some of the projects are similar to those offered by other groups (such as construction, renovation and tutoring). One- to three-week trips cost between $600 and $1,650.
Global Service Corps, 415-788-3666, Ext. 128, www.globalservicecorps.org. Volunteers in Thailand and Tanzania teach English, work in health clinics and offer agriculture and HIV/AIDS education. Trips last from three weeks to six months and cost $1,900 and up.
Global Volunteers, 800-487-1074, www.globalvolunteers.org. Programs in 18 countries (including the U.S.), from environmental restoration in Kenya to teaching English or craft skills and building renovation. Fees are about $1,500 for a one-week program.
Habitat for Humanity's Global Village Program, 800-422-4828 or 229-924-6935, www.habitat.org/GV. Short-term house-building projects in dozens of countries. International trips cost between $1,200 and $4,000 and generally last between 10 days and three weeks.
Health Volunteers Overseas , 202-296-0928, www.hvousa.org. Health-related programs for medical professionals, including physical therapy, anesthesia, hand surgery and internal medicine. Longer medical-volunteers programs are provided through Doctors Without Borders/Medecins sans Frontières (www.msf.org).
International Executive Service Corps, 203-967-6000, www.iesc.org. Business executives advise would-be entrepreneurs in developing countries concerning areas such as information technology, financing, management skills and more.
Passport in Time, 800-281-9176, www.passportintime.com. Archeological and historic preservation programs by the U.S. Forest Service to restore cave art, stabilize cliff dwellings and gather oral histories. There's no fee to participate, but you often must provide your own food and lodging.
Service Civil International, 206-350-6585, www.sci-ivs.org. Coordinates two-week work camps worldwide (including some in the U.S.), from teaching children and working with immigrants to farm work and building restoration. Also organizes longer-term service. The U.S. branch is run by a volunteer staff in Seattle.
Sierra Club, 415-977-5522,www.sierraclub.org/outings. About 90 service trips in the U.S. each year. Most are in wilderness areas and volunteers participate in activities ranging from trail maintenance and restoration to archaeological studies to whale watches. Trips generally last one to two weeks and cost between $225 and $600.
Student Conservation Association: 603-543-1700, www.thesca.org. Outdoors/environmental service for high-school and college students in the U.S. Programs usually one month or longer.
Voluntary Service Overseas, www.vso.org.uk. Based in Britain, but recruits volunteers from throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. One of the largest volunteer groups in the world and has sent almost 30,000 volunteers to programs since 1958.
Volunteers for Peace, 802-259-2759, www.vfp.org. Places volunteers in work camps in 80 countries, from reforestation and building renovation to teaching. Cost is $200 to $400, plus travel expenses. Some family and teen camps are available.
Wilderness Volunteers, 928-556-0038, www.wildernessvolunteers.org. More than 40 week-long service projects on U.S. public lands (mostly national parks), in which you'll maintain trails, weed and prevent erosion. Most trips are less than $200 for a week (most are camping trips).
Information from The Washington Post and Associated Press in included in this report.