Just because the economy is suffering, doesn’t mean your family has to suffer when it comes to vacation this summer.  Here are some great tips on how to vacation for next to nothing when you volunteer.  So you may be asking “Whets the catch?”  Well there is no catch.  The only thing you have to do is volunteer your time and you can vacation for almost nothing.  When you volunteer, you are going on a relaxing vacation and giving back to organizations in your community as well. 

            Have you always wanted to dig for ancient bones?  Try helping out on the next archaeological dig.  Are you an animal lover?  You can volunteer learning how animals in Australia respond to fire.  This helps the experts develop a better wildlife strategy.

            Those are some general ideas for you to give back with a volunteer vacation.  There are more specific organizations that you can check out.  The Earth watch Institute was organized in 1972.  They have short term projects on ecology, zoology and archaeology. The projects normally run from a week to 2 weeks long.  Earth watch has about 140 projects each year in 45 different countries and they employ about 4,000 volunteers per year. 

            Wilderness Volunteers is a great organization that was developed in 1997 and uses their volunteers to help maintain national parks, forests and wilderness areas all over the United States.  For about $219 per person, you can spend a week doing things such as maintaining the trails to renovation projects.  You provide your own camping gear and they supply all the tools you will need.

            Habitat for Humanity is an organization that most people are familiar with.  Most communities have one.  The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to provide affordable housing to low income families.  The neat thing is that you don’t have to stay in your community to take part in this volunteer vacation.  You can choose areas such as Mexico, New Zealand or Fiji. 

            The Elderhostel Service Programs are for those 55 and older.  Their website matches seniors with vacations with causes that they are passionate about.  This can be anything from teaching in Mexico to dolphin research in Belize. 

            Bob Marshall’s Wilderness Foundation is a totally free vacation that includes meals.  You do have to provide your own camping gear though.  With this volunteer vacation, you get to visit Western Montana and help care for the trails of the one million acres of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. 

            The American Hiking Society is an affordable vacation for the wilderness buff.  For $275 per year, which includes one free vacation and subscriptions to Backpacker and Hiker magazines?  Meals and lodging are includes as well.  With this vacation you will travel to the many forest trails that need caring for.  You can choose from places like Hawaii, Alaska or the Virgin Islands along with 30 other trails. 

            These vacations are either free or completely affordable.  And all it takes is a little work, some of your time and a desire to make this earth a better place.