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With Summer Around the Corner, Opt for a Volunteer Vacation

Whether you're single or a traveling with a family, a volunteer vacation can be the best choice you make

By Susie Albin-Najera
Published on LatinoLA: April 8, 2010

With Summer Around the Corner, Opt for a Volunteer Vacation

You have one week off, maybe two if you're lucky. You would like to vacation in Mexico because of its proximity, price and paradise-factor. However, in lieu of focusing on which destination in Mexico has the best beach, why not consider taking a volunteer vacation in Mexico.

This might sound crazy to some. Why would you want to spend you hard-earned vacation time not vacationing?

Some volunteer opportunities are referred to as work projects, medical missions, mission trips, educational visits or travel seminars. Incorporating a volunteer effort on your next trip to Mexico is fantastic option regardless if you are single or traveling with a family or a group. And there is a wide selection when it comes to options to complement your trip.

For example, you can choose from serving in many different areas such as: hospitality, biology, technology, healthcare, farming, botanics, education, economics, environment, media arts, sports and so on. To give you an idea, you can feed children, saddle horses, plant a tree, build a home, teach English, introduce computers, demonstrate best health practices, create a web page, scuba dive and learn about the environment. You can help preserve endangered sea turtles, assist local biologists researching jaguars and pumas in their local habitats, save coral reefs, work side by side with local doctors immersed in a small community or help feed animals at a working ranch.

These are the main reasons I recommend volunteering on your vacation:

- Obtain a better knowledge of the area and understanding of the local community and its needs
- See a destination through different eyes
- Make new friends and contacts in unlikely places
- Sway from your norm and do something different or new
- Embrace an experience that will change your life forever and for the better
- Personally rewarding and/or family bonding experience
- Inspire others to do the same good will
- Challenge of thinking outward, not inward
- Be welcomed with loving arms and open hearts
- Have a special story to share with friends
- Return home with new energy and a new outlook on life

Many organizations offer volunteer opportunities ranging from one week up to a year, and some options require fees for accommodations, food and supplies. The main thing is to do all of your research, decide which options work best for you, your family or group and then pre-arrange.

Meet Katherine Fisher, the face behind the newly formed volunteer vacation company, Destination: PEACE, located in the Puerto Vallarta area. Sidenote: (Sisters Molly Mendez Fisher and Katherine Fisher came up with the concept of PEACE Volunteer Vacations.) Each of their five-day vacations combine volunteerism with activities such as yoga, cultural activities and adventure activities including fresh food creations using native plants, whale watching or even guiding baby turtles into their new world. Destination PEACE information can be viewed at

Here are some other resources, organizations and names to help you get started in your search:

PEACE (Mexico)
Volunteer in Mexico
Volunteer Opportunities in Mexico:
Volunteer Abroad in Mexico
AmeriSpan: Volunteer in Mexico
United Planet
Cadip Canada
Projects Abroad
Children of the Dump
A Child's Hope Foundation

Whichever option you might chose, volunteering enriches your soul, makes our world a better place and you a better individual. And as Maya Angelou puts it, "We are at our greatest when we encourage and connect with another human being."

For more travel-related stories on Mexico, visit

About Susie Albin-Najera:
Susie Albin-Najera is a freelance travel writer specializing in Mexico and the editor of The MEXICO Report.
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