While there’s nothing wrong with crashing on a sunny beach and chilling out among gently swaying palm trees, have you ever considered taking a vacation that can change lives — including your own? That’s the idea behind volunteer vacations, a unique way to see the world while giving back, and there are some pretty amazing opportunities out there to visit some exotic destinations while contributing to some noble causes.
Available in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, GoAbroad.com offers a program that places volunteers in a Buddhist temple school to teach English to children — who are also novice Buddhist monks.
A diverse array of volunteer opportunities are available on the gorgeous island nation of Fiji through International Volunteer HQ. Projects include teaching and sports education at local schools, construction and renovation of schools and community centres, and providing childcare and community support.
PodVolunteer is seeking volunteers to join an active research team that will collect data on African elephants, working hands-on with these majestic creatures while living on South Africa’s famed Garden Route.
GVI Canada offers volunteers the opportunity to visit the city of Kochi in the southern state of Kerala (described as “a must-see destination”), where they’ll work with disadvantaged children in a local school. In addition to volunteering, R&R activities include staying overnight on a houseboat and cruising the backwaters, kayaking along the river, cycling through villages, relaxing on the one of the nearby beaches, or indulging in a traditional Ayurvedic massage.