"It gives you a strong sense of community," she says, "of doing something bigger than yourself and making a difference wherever you go." Making that difference is the spirit behind service tourism, the catch-all term for using your time away from work to donate your best efforts toward improving someone's life, somewhere else.
When people hear "service tourism," they recall that selflesser-than-thou college roommate who went and built houses in Uganda on "alternative spring break" while you pummeled your liver in Daytona. And you thought, Yeah, he's a swell guy and all, but who wants to "vacation" by laying a tar roof in the jungle?
Don't let the veneer of martyrdom turn you off. Service tourism has expanded far beyond sweat and dirt and hammers and nails. More and more people -- perhaps 10 million of them annually -- are taking trips that include volunteering. As you might expect, options abound. This list is by no means comprehensive, but everything on here is something you can book, or that can guide your wider search for creative ways to volunteer and then come home feeling like a hero.