BlogHer Original Post

Vacationers go abroad for all kinds of reasons, but increasingly there's a shift towards combining that break with volunteering. It's voluntourism, a combination of sightseeing and making a difference. Travelers return with their lives enriched not just through observation, but through particpation in improving lives in far away - or nearby - communities.

Rachel in Hong Kong is off to Laos in August.

The community projects I will be working on are quite varied, from teaching basic English, building wheelchairs for landmine victims, and several other community self-help projects such as teaching basic 1st Aid.

Bookmark her site and head back later this summer when she's writing about her experiences.

Voluntourism is big in post-Katrina New Orleans, where folks are going to tear down demolished buildings by day and dance by night.

Mardi Gras Service Corps volunteers are expected to work four to six hours a day. They are relieved of duty in time to hit the town to eat dinner at an oyster house or hear jazz at a nightclub. The group even helps people find temporary lodging, which is rare in the city these days.

That's from AmbivaBlog where there are good links for those itiching get a little gumbo and good works.

Voluntour Euromaniac writes candidly about the fatigue she's feeling her longer term involvement in Romania. She's working on a documentary film about the kids she worked with.

I find it a daily struggle to defend myself against the disapproval. The objections are nearly universal: "Why can't you show the beautiful things about Romania? Romania has more than abandoned children! Why don't you document the problems in your own country?"

Read the whole post, her story is compelling and she's got great insights. And she's honest about the toll that working in a difficult environment can take.

You can be a voluntour in just about any destination. Once the province of long term Peace Corp volunteers and relief organization employees, the experience is now open to anyone. There's even adventure voluntourism - check out Relief Riders International, where you can cross the Indian desert by camel to bring supplies to impoverished villages.

If you want to learn more, check out Voluntourism, for starters. Try Sustainable Travel or Global Volunteers also. See the world, do good works. What a winning combination.

Pam blogs about travel and other adventures at Nerd's Eye View.