Monday, November 29, 2010

EcoMonday: A Vacation Alternative

It's not only EcoMonday this Monday, but also Cyber Monday: deals on the Internet abound today, and that goes for travel, too.
If you're looking to book a vacation for the chilly winter months or the soggy spring, we've got an option for you. Consider voluntourism. What's that awkward mashup? It's not awkward at all, actually: It's a wonderful blend of rejuvenation and soul-filling glory.
More traditional volunteer vacations, like the Sierra Club's outings, offer you one or two free days of exploring while giving back to the National Park system. All levels of skill and strength can be accomodated, and you'll probably pick up new skills while learning to build trails, paint fences, dig postholes...the list is endless. While you're at it, you'll know that you're helping to maintain some of our most stunning natural features.
On the other end of the spectrum is a group like All Hands Disaster Relief, where you can stay as long as you like, and help with as much as humanly possible. You pay for your flight to one of Hands' existing sites, and you spend all day, every day, rebuilding communities that have been affected by disaster. (Full disclosure: Hands worked with us via ShelterBox, and we think they are the absolute bomb when it comes to disaster-relief work.) You can be on a rubble team, a children team, a hospital runner team, a shelter team...the possibilities are endless.

Somewhere in the middle is a group like Road Monkey. Founded by former New York Times reporter Paul von Zielbauer and profiled recently in no less than O magazine, Road Monkey pairs a week of adventure travel with a week of good work. A recent trip had Road Monkeys bicycling through Vietnam and then working to build a playground with the not-for-profit Catalyst Foundation, which deals with anti-trafficking and educational initiatives for children.

So go on, make this CyberMonday really count.

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