• Many charities and religious organizations have developed attractive volunteer vacation opportunities. However, a complete understanding of the situation is important before you commit.

    Here are the Questions to ask…

    What does the price include?
    Depending on your destination, it may be a good choice to purchase emergency evacuation insurance if it is not included in the total package price.

    What is the refund policy?
    Different volunteer organizations that you travel with may have different policies for returns or cancelations. Often times, cancelations means that you would lose a deposit that you may have paid upfront, in which case you should purchase emergency insurance in the beginning.

    What exactly is my money going towards?
    Any charity or organization that you are supporting and traveling through should be willing to outline how they are using your money. Approximately half of your money may be going to the trip itself while the remaining is divided up into categories such as volunteer training, charity promotion, and insurance.

    What is the charity’s mission statement and vision?
    Don’t commit to an organization that does not reflect your own personal goals, passions, and values. Traveling as a volunteer is a large undertaking, both financially and physically, and you should always dedicate your time to charities that you truly believe in and support. This will ensure that your experience is as personally fulfilling as possible.

    What has this organization achieved so far?
    You should be aware of any progress that the charity has made before you sign up for a trip. Have they made a positive impact so far? Is there evidence that these types of vacations and projects have been successful in the past? You want to make sure that your volunteer vacation is going to be productive.

    Is my volunteer vacation tax deductible?
    Generally speaking, if you are traveling with a nonprofit organization, then you can write off your trip on your taxes – or at least the cost of the plane ticket.

    Will I be greeted at the airport?
    A member of staff or a volunteer coordinator should be there to meet you and begin orientation when you arrive at your destination.

    What is my hotel and food going to be like?
    If you’re traveling on a volunteer vacation, then you shouldn’t be expecting to stay at anything near a 5-star resort with gourmet catering. Most likely, you will be staying at campsites or simple dormitories and bunking with roommates. Volunteers often have to take turns with different chores as well, so you may end up having kitchen duty.

    Are there any safety precautions that I need to take?
    Check if your organization has an emergency evacuation plan or policy, and whether or not you have access to nearby medical facilities.

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    Article by: Dianne Morris

    As a designer and entrepreneur, products for women have been my focus. Dianne Sullivan Designs created fun jewelry for boutiques and department stores. Miraflores Designs designed and supplied custom branded soap, shampoo and other toiletries for hotel chains. With Bay Linens, Inc, we created decorative bedding sold through Bloomingdales, Bed, Bath & Beyond and other retailers. Our home decor products, with the brand, China Seas, is sold at Isetan Department stores in Japan. At this stage of life I'm connecting with other women over 50 who want to examine their interests and to connect with each other. At ZestNow.com I want to gather useful information and inspiration for this new phase of life.

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