While the allure of a vacation spent lazing on the beach is omnipresent, some travelers are choosing to put vacation time to good use -- for a good cause.
Voluntourism has picked up steam as a movement since the 1990s, allowing globetrotters to trade a hammock for a hammer and helping out communities affected by natural disasters and economic hardship. Combining the passions of travel and service takes travelers beyond guided tours and cruise ships to meet the people and see their communities firsthand.
When booking a service trip, consider your abilities and interests to find a trip that maximizes the impact on a chosen cause and provides personal fulfillment. Niche trips cater to enthusiasms such as animals, the environment and education. Philanthropists of all skill levels can find a way to help, whether it is distributing shoes to children in Haiti or volunteering medical training after a tornado tears through the Midwest.
Organizations like the American Red Cross allow volunteers to search for projects by city or register to help in their own community when a time of need arises. Unsure what to do? Volunteer Match allows do-gooders to search for service projects by location or genre with more than 70,000 active opportunities and 79,000 participating nonprofit organizations.