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April 17, 2008

Jet-Set Angel

If it came to judgment day, you could happily explain how you used your time wisely by spending summers in Saint Tropez, winters in Saint Moritz and Christmas time in Saint Barts. They are all holy places after all, right? But, would this be enough to grant you entry through the beaming pearly gates?  Maybe not. You’ve got the jet-set part down to a T but we may need to work a little on polishing your halo…Enter “voluntourism” (a combination of volunteering and vacationing) the hottest trend in travel, which is sweeping the globe, with opportunities everywhere from gorgeous tropical islands to ancient tribal cities.  It’s time to spread your wings and see where they’ll take you…

Planning a wild safari?  A weekend in the wine country?  Why not add on a week or two in the village of Malungeni? GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS, a world-renowned program, which has been awarded UN Consultative Status, will have you tossing your binoculars aside and getting up close and personal with the villagers in this small rural community in no time. Help improve educational, economic and social capabilities by teaching in the local primary or pre-school, cooking meals for students, repairing buildings, or practicing English with children who were abandoned or displaced because of AIDS.

We know when you’re on the stairmaster every day you’re having grand delusions that you’re climbing to the summit of Machu Picchu.  Start living out your dreams and helping make other’s come true.  You can climb for charity with GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS (, or combine your climb with a 1-week volunteer vacation in Lima or Ayacucho. CROSS CULTURAL SOLUTIONS will allow you to work side-by-side with the local people while gaining unique insight into the country’s history and culture. Choose from providing care to the elderly to helping women work toward empowerment to assisting local health professionals.

C’mon, admit it. You’ve been dreaming of volunteering at an orphanage in Southeast Asia ever since Angelina adopted Maddox.  It seems your time has come, and you can take the whole family too! GLOBE AWARE’s weeklong programs in Luang Prabang allow you to work in local orphanages, both helping to improve the school facilities and spending time with the children.  Volunteers from age 2 – 95 can delight in the beauty and history of this UNESCO world heritage city while making an impact with its neediest citizens.

Animal lovers rejoice!  I-TO-I has developed specialized volunteer programs for you to get intimate hands on experience with your favourite wildlife species. Hone your animal instincts close to home at a Panda Reserve in Shaanxi, China where you can work with the gorgeous black & white pandas as well as black deer, red pandas, monkeys and peacocks, helping the staff with anything from feeding, to research to rescue outings.

If you prefer to rest your head upon 500 thread count sheets after a hard day of volunteering, book your next holiday at a RITZ-CARLTON.  Their new Give Back Getaways program allows hotel guests from Beijing to Bahrain to lend a hand in the surrounding communities.  At The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, interested guests can join a biologist from the local department of ecology on a night expedition as a part of a critical mission to protect mother turtles during nesting and help them return safely to the sea.

After all of these amazing experiences, we guarantee you’ll come back glowing and more radiant than ever…even without all the beach time! Just call me Angel.

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