Is a volunteer vacation for you?
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
Concerned about sending your child to a booze-fueled spring break destination? Want to avoid crowded beaches and enjoy a more meaningful experience? Then now is the time to say, "Yes, I can," and take a chance on a volunteer vacation. It may not be a relaxing vacation, but chances are it will be a life-changer. has rounded up four worthwhile experiences this spring and beyond.
Blaze a Trail
The American Hiking Society offers multiple volunteer opportunities to help clean up our nation's trail systems. Each trip is made up of a crew of between six and 15 volunteers and a leader. The Hiking Society has trips organized by level of ruggedness—whether you're sleeping in tents or a cabin—and level of difficulty. The average vacation length is a week, but each volunteer can choose to participate for as long or as short a time period she wishes.

Participants can spend time in Buffalo, Arkansas, helping to build trails along America's first National River, to create walking treads along hillsides. If you're into something more rugged, participate in the Tonto National Forest project, which focuses on only rough trail maintenance, including brushing, cribbing, tread improvement and cutting of approximately 5 miles of trail.

Learn more about America's hiking trails at

But don't confuse a volunteer vacation with a traditional vacation: The work day starts early at 8 a.m., and volunteers work for about seven hours, followed by an afternoon of camp chores and exploring the local area. The really good news is that these experiences are affordable: The first trip costs $245 for American Hiking Society Members and $275 for nonmembers. Every trip after that costs only $175 per person.


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