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June 24, 2009

Voluntours in South Asia

DestinationHimalaya
A voluntourist lends a hand in Kerala.
Photo: Destination Himalaya

by Brook Wilkinson

Let's face it: Even in troubled times like these, we Americans generally have it pretty good. We're still healthier, better fed, and better educated than the vast majority of the world's population. If such inequalities trouble you, consider turning your next trip into a voluntour with Destination Himalaya.

This well-respected tour operator--operations manager Sanjay Saxena is on Wendy Perrin's annual list of the world's best travel planners (you can read a user review of him here)--has long had a philosophy of "giving back," by partnering with local charities in the areas its clients visit. Now Destination Himalaya has taken it a step further, by organizing several voluntours that combine volunteer work with a bit of sightseeing. You can help out on a medical boat that brings health care to the people of the remote Sunderban Islands (no medical training is necessary to participate), assist at a school for handicapped children in Kerala, or lend a hand at a school high in the Spiti Valley of the Himalayas (be prepared to spend a fair amount of time above 12,000 feet). All of the trips include some time to relax and enjoy the sights, as well as deluxe accommodations where available.

Check out the links and contact our friend Sanjay for more details.

Further reading:
* Globe-trotting for Good: Join the Condé Nast Traveler Challenge.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.

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