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Volunteer Vacations

Vacation for a cause - with your girlfriends

Stretching my stressed-out, tired body on a beach where Blackberries don't work confirms that idleness can be a virtue - especially when I'm catching up with Volunteer VacationsVolunteer Vacationsold friends. But rolling up my sleeves for a cause makes me feel better in a different way.

And doing it with my girlfriends (who know me better than anyone else) makes it all the more fun.

If you're considering a more, well, interactive, vacation, get ready to explore. Agree on something you can all get into, whether it's a wildly ambitious bridge-building project or reading with orphans.

Look carefully at a variety of organizations, their mission statements and what past volunteers have said about the experience. Volunteer vacations aren't for everyone, but if you like helping others have a look at what these organizations can offer:

Points of Light Foundation:Works in partnership with local volunteer agencies to mobilize people and resources across the United States. Think of it as a clearing house of organizations that sorts volunteers.

Global Volunteers: Works in 19 different countries and coordinates 150 teams that do everything from caring for children in Peru to improving health care services in Romania. Hands on and total immersion into the local culture.

Habitat for Humanity: Builds homes for families and communities in 80 countries around the world. From disaster response to building safe and affordable homes worldwide, prepare your muscles for a workout.

Earth Watch Institute: Leads hundreds of expeditions in 45 countries. You might be asked to band penguins or map water supplies in drought-stricken countries.

Amizade: Manages housing, health-care and Gal-Pal PowerGal-Pal Powerenvironmental projects in 10 countries. Programs often involve construction and manual labor and can be done as a group project (if you have 6 or more friends signing up with you).

American Hiking Society: Organizes volunteer teams to maintain and clean up wilderness trails throughout the United States.

Ever considered a volunteer vacation with your chums?

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These sound like great ways to spend a vacation! :) I have had a trip with EarthWatch on my bucket list for years!

You are so right on! Love your title. Go Girlfriend Travel. Very kool and appropriate. Women traveling has rocketed and in particular last count adventure travel is now the domain of women as against men for such eco-tourism ventures. Seems there is a growing number taking in the planet first hand and with obvious concern about the global warming and/or human warming problems now apparent in most parts of the world. Yes. There are indeed numerous and major adjustments happening everywhere. Not to argue with anyone but it is real caused by whomever and it is not going away. Every traveler has a responsibilty to recognize the situation and it is why more and more travel suppliers subscribe to "Responsible Tourim." Not usre exactly what it means but stay clear of those using this terminology for the sake of marketing in this fiercely competitive climate. Ask them in advance! Responsible Travel is something we must all feel comfortable with. Happy traveling ladies. Good on all of you!

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