Agritourism: Work on a farm in return for room and board.
 

Volunteer travel: Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
 

Home swaps: All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
 

Hospitality networks: Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
 

Ambassador programs: Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.

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Agritourism
Work on a farm in return for room and board.
Sample organization:

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
Where: More than 80 countries.

  

How it works:

You provide the brawn, they provide the benefits: WWOOFers agree to help their hosts with farming duties for an agreed-upon number of hours each day (usually about four hours), and in exchange, hosts provide meals and sleeping quarters. Activities may include typical farming activities such as weeding and harvesting; it also may involve minor construction work or other tasks. Operations range from small hobby farms to commercial operations.

  

Benefits:

You’ll likely see a part of the country few tourists visit, and learn a lot about organic growing. Since WWOOFers often stay with families, they can get an inside perspective on an area and tips about the places locals love to visit when they’ve got free time. If you come at harvest time, you can expect to have some fantastic meals.

  

Drawbacks:

Though there’s a huge range among the farms, don’t go into your stay expecting four-star accommodations. “If you’re not comfortable at a youth hostel, you might not like this,” says WWOOFer and retired college off-campus studies director Margit Johnson. “It’s pretty close to the earth.” Some farms may require you to stay in a tent.

  

Costs:

You pay for access to the list of WWOOF hosts in a given country; costs range from about $15 to $70. Once you’ve found a farm that fits your needs, there’s no money exchanged between hosts and guests.

  

Other notes:

No farming experience is required to WWOOF, though an interest helps. In general, the WWOOFing crowd tends to be 20-somethings eager to explore the world.

  

Also check:Agritourism World offers updated listings of farms around the world that are open to the public. The farms offer everything from you-pick-’em apple farms to dude ranch vacations. For the most part, expect to pay for the privilege of working.

 

Agritourism: Work on a farm in return for room and board.
 

Volunteer travel: Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
 

Home swaps: All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
 

Hospitality networks: Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
 

Ambassador programs: Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..







Volunteer travel
Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
Sample organization:

Global Volunteers.
Where: 19 countries on five continents.

  

How it works:

Volunteers generally spend one to three weeks in one of about 20 countries. They participate in projects such as teaching English, providing health care or maintaining community buildings.

  

Benefits:

You don’t have to fend for yourself: Meals, lodging, ground transportation, emergency medical evacuation insurance and other project expenses are all covered. Participants go because they hope to give back and experience a cultural immersion. They often return with a sense of accomplishment and new friends.

  

Drawbacks:

The work may be rewarding, but don’t expect an easy schedule. Because of strict regulations required for tax benefits under federal law, you’ll be busy. “Volunteers work 40 hours per week,” says Judith Strobel, director of media relations at Global Volunteers. “The weekend and most evenings (are) free.”

  

Costs:

Costs vary greatly depending on the country you visit and the length of your stay, but are often tax-deductible.

  

Other notes:

If you plan on taking a tax deduction, be sure you check with the individual organization you plan to use to make sure they meet the required guidelines. Among other things, the organization must be a registered nonprofit. You’ll also be required to work an average of eight hours a day, five days a week.

  

Also check:Cross-Cultural Solutions offers volunteer abroad activities in social services, education and health. Some options include caring for the elderly, working for women’s empowerment and working with people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Habitat for Humanity: Help build simple homes for people in many countries. Some knowledge of construction is helpful, but not required.

 

Agritourism: Work on a farm in return for room and board.
 

Volunteer travel: Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
 

Home swaps: All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
 

Hospitality networks: Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
 

Ambassador programs: Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..







Home swaps
All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
Sample organization:

Home Exchange.
Where: More than 100 countries worldwide.

  

How it works:

After paying a fee, you can list your home along with thousands of others in more than 100 countries. The site helps facilitate one-to-one home exchanges with people anywhere in the world. While you’re in someone else’s home, they’re in yours. Plenty of contact with your exchange hosts helps eliminate fears of having a stranger in your home.

  

Benefits:

With no hotel costs to drain your budget, you can stretch your vacation dollars much further. Need a late-night snack? You can just head to the kitchen, not to the (expensive) minibar or (more expensive) hotel restaurant. “(Home exchangers) will often introduce you to the neighbors, so you’ll get to meet people in a way that you don’t get to if you’re in a hotel,” says Home Exchange President Ed Kushins. “The neighbors will come over, or they’ll invite you over for dinner. And they’ll tell you the places to eat that aren’t in every tour book.”

  

Drawbacks:

If you don’t have much flexibility on your travel dates, you might have trouble finding an exchange. Because successful Home Exchange users have homes in reasonably desirable locations, you may have a tough time swapping your home in Podunksville for a flat in Paris. And if you’re a private person, you may not enjoy the idea of people in your home when you’re not there.

  

Costs:

$100 for an annual membership; no other fees apply.

  

Other notes:

If you’ve got an ocean-side mansion or Tuscan villa and you’d like exchange with others who have homes as grand as your own,

HomeExchangeGold caters to wealthier homeowners.

  

Also check:Homelink: This British-based company offers about 12,000 homes in 72 countries. Annual memberships start at $110.

InterVac: This Swedish-based home exchange company has more than 50 countries represented in its database.

 

Agritourism: Work on a farm in return for room and board.
 

Volunteer travel: Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
 

Home swaps: All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
 

Hospitality networks: Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
 

Ambassador programs: Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..







Hospitality networks
Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
Sample organization:

Servas.
Where: 125 countries worldwide.

  

How it works:

After being interviewed by a Servas representative, answering a few essay questions, collecting two recommendations and agreeing to a set of basic rules, you can link up with hosts around the world. In general, hosts agree to provide a place for travelers to stay for three days and two nights; other arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis.

  

Benefits:

Well-vetted host and traveler lists mean you’ll have safe, friendly interactions wherever you stay. And with a long hosting list, you’ll have lots of choices. The organization expects hosts and travelers to make diligent efforts to share their ideas and experiences, and many report lifelong friendships as a result. Though not required, hosts often go the extra mile to accommodate their guests, says longtime Servas traveler Shel Horowitz, owner of Frugalfun.com and author of “The Penny-Pinching Hedonist.” “In practice, most visits include breakfast, dinner and time to socialize,” he says.

  

Drawbacks:

The enrollment process is more complex than some other programs. If you like privacy and don’t want to share much with your hosts, this may not be a program for you. Even the most gregarious folks rarely do more than a few Servas visits back to back: “After two or three (Servas visits), it’s nice to recharge your batteries,” says Horowitz.

  

Costs:

A year-long membership costs $85, plus a refundable deposit for host lists.

  

Other notes:

Servas was founded in the 1940s.

  

Also check:Couchsurfing.com is an organization where hosts offer up their couch (or guest bedroom) for weary travelers. There is no monetary exchange, but travelers usually offer to take on small household tasks or pick up a dinner tab.

HospitalityClub.org, one of the earliest online hospitality networks, is a Germany-based volunteer organization that has members in more than 100 countries willing to share their homes with visitors.

 

Agritourism: Work on a farm in return for room and board.
 

Volunteer travel: Immerse yourself in a new culture with most expenses paid.
 

Home swaps: All the comforts of home at no cost to you.
 

Hospitality networks: Share your life experiences with hosts in 125 countries.
 

Ambassador programs: Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..







Citizen ambassador programs
Professional and educational exchanges plus travel.
Sample organization:

People to People.
Where: Worldwide.

  

How it works:

In addition to its well-known student ambassador programs, this organization provides ways for people in specific fields such as law, medicine, nursing and education to link up with their counterparts in other countries. (Programs known as “missions of understanding” are open to anyone who is interested in learning about another country.) Delegations of 20 to 40 people spend a week to 10 days in a country to discuss their day jobs and learn more about how those same jobs are done in other countries.

  

Benefits:

Many of the programs qualify for ongoing education credits — and the locale beats a cramped hotel conference room any day. Thanks to the program’s long history and reputation, it can occasionally book activities that you won’t be able to find elsewhere, such as gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Top-notch accommodations ensure that travelers will be comfortable and safe no matter where their destination.

  

Drawbacks:

Up to 60 percent of your time is filled with meetings, lectures and discussions. You’ll need to check with the organization to see if your tour will meet minimum work guidelines for the write off, which requires 40 hours of work each week to meet IRS regulations; extended tours usually do not qualify for the deduction.

  

Costs:

A typical tour will cost about $5,000, but employers often subsidize that cost. In some cases, the trip is tax-deductible.

  

Other notes:

Though the programs will accept adults of any age, most participants are 50 or older and quite well-traveled, according to Meredith Blanka, People to People’s vice president of marketing. “They’ve generally done traditional trips before, and they’re looking to do more, see more and give back at this point in their lives,” she says.

  

Also check:Sister Cities International is an organization that links U.S. cities with other cities in around the world to help residents develop business partnerships, explore other cultures and link similar organizations from different countries together.

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