The holidays can be a magical time that allows us to open our hearts and remind us of our place in the world. Boston-based United Planet reports that the number of travelers who volunteer abroad in December and January this year is up 50% from last year.
The nonprofit organizes trips in 40 countries to schools, orphanages and other community projects that could use a helping hand. In Nepal, for example, volunteers may spend a week tending to the basic needs of young children in a Kathmandu orphanage or teaching English, math and science in a local school. No experience or language requirement is required to sign up, and you may choose to help in a city or a village.
It's not all work either. Participants stay with host families and take dance and language lessons, visit sacred sites such as Swayambhunath, a.k.a. the Monkey Temple (for the monkeys that roam here by day) or the Buddhist temple at Bodhnath, and go trekking in the nearby mountains.
Date: Trips are customized and available year-round.
Price: $1,815 per person for one week, $1,940 for 10 days. It includes pre-trip training, airport transfers and travel insurance, stays with a host family, meals, orientation, cultural activities, tours and trekking. International airfare to and from Nepal is extra.