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The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations To Enrich Your Life


Life-Enhancing, Experience-driven Vacations that Offer Fun and Fulfillment

WASHINGTON - On the heels of travel expert Pam Grout’s popular “100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life,” featuring international destinations, comes an information-filled guide brimming with more ideas for unforgettable vacation experiences around the globe.

THE 100 BEST VOLUNTEER VACATIONS TO ENRICH YOUR LIFE (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0459-3; May 19, 2009; $19.95) showcases a broad range of experience-driven getaways that will transform vacation time into opportunities for enrichment, fulfillment and helping others.

According to a 2008 survey by the University of California, San Diego, 40 percent of Americans would like to volunteer while on vacation, and another 13 percent are ready to devote an entire year to hopping on a plane and providing goodwill. This timely book responds to this growing interest in combining volunteering with travel.

“The reasons for wanting to volunteer vary,” writes Grout in her introduction. “But the thing all volunteer vacations share? They shed light. They give us a more realistic view of the world.”

Grout organizes her suggestions into chapters covering six regions: North America & the Caribbean, Central & South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia & around.

“By choosing a volunteer vacation by destination, you’ll get to travel to the country of your dreams, the one that’s been on your radar since second grade or since the president of the PTA came back from there and started passing out pictures that made you jealous,” Grout writes. “You’ll be able to immerse yourself in that wild dream country in a way not possible on the average tour bus. ... You’ll spend time with the very people who inhabit your longed-for country. Through volunteering, you’ll get a unique insight into their culture, their beliefs, and, yes, their dreams.”

North America & the Caribbean getaway ideas include excavating stone tools and other ancient artifacts at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center outside Cortez, Colo.; protecting loggerhead sea turtles at the Wassaw National Wildlife Reserve in Georgia; serving as a lighthouse keeper at various lighthouses across the United States; transforming a village in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains; delivering food and supplies to Haiti; or assisting with free health clinics in northern Mexico.

Travelers interested in volunteer vacations in Central & South America can collect butterflies in remote Amazonia, help campesinos harvest coffee beans in Nicaragua, work in an Argentine soup kitchen or lead walks through a cloud forest in Honduras.

Those seeking European destinations can head to Scotland’s Hebrides to work with dolphins, refurbish castles in Germany, tend gardens at castles and manor houses all over the United Kingdom, take orphaned children hiking in Kyrgyzstan or clean fossils in Portugal’s first UNESCO-sponsored geopark.

Volunteer opportunities in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia & around include assisting Iraqi refugees in Syria, teaching music in Ghana, helping AIDS orphans in Zambia, compiling data on endangered wild elephants in Sri Lanka, restoring a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, conducting underwater fish and coral surveys in the Philippines and helping save the Tasmanian devil in Australia.

THE 100 BEST VOLUNTEER VACATIONS TO ENRICH YOUR LIFE is more than a travel guide — it’s a spirited collection of experiences filled with tips to inspire, awaken, teach, challenge and more. It tells you all you need to know to ensure your next vacation won’t just be time off — it will be time well spent.

Grout is the author of 15 travel and self-help books, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Travel + Leisure, Outside, Modern Maturity, New Age Journal, Scientific American Explorations and The Washington Post. She also is the Midwestern stringer for People magazine and writes a travel column called “Now, Where Was I?” She lives in Lawrence, Kan.


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