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5 Ways to Spend Your Summer Abroad

Summer Abroad Biking Europe

Remember your school days when every September meant the return of the "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay in English class? Some kids wrote about summer camp, some had visited relatives out of state, and a few lucky ones had gone to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. Then there was always the one kid who had done something truly amazing. His essay included a photo of himself sitting on a camel in front of an Egyptian pyramid, or a photo of herself waving happily from a small motor boat with the wide mouth of a crocodile just out of reach. This summer, take the opportunity to make up for all those essays you wrote about mowing the neighbors' lawns, playing park and rec baseball, or scooping ice cream at the family's corner store. This summer you are in charge of your summer vacation. Make it epic; go forth and be awesome.

When Working Abroad Isn't Work

Work? You're probably saying to yourself, why would I spend my summer vacation working? The answer is easy; when you combine a work experience with travel, somehow it doesn't really seem like work. One of the coolest ways to work abroad is through international house sitting. Other people around the world are also going on their summer holidays, and they want someone to watch over their property (and sometimes their pets) while they're gone. To get started, register with the major house sitting websites, then grab the book The House Sitters How-to Handbook: Your Complete Guide to Travel & Adventure as a House Sitter to help snag this summer's best house sits.

How about mixing work with adventure? Again, is it really work if it's this much fun? Bold Earth Teen Adventures are trips to global destinations that are packed with life-changing experiences. Paid Trip Leaders for this outdoor adventure company guide teens (ratio 2:16) on tours ranging from four to nine weeks. All Trip Leaders are trained prior to leading an adventure and must meet several other criteria; many come back every summer! Bike Amsterdam to Paris, explore the Amazon rainforest, or walk the Great Wall of China while empowering the world's future leaders.

Global Volunteering Serves Vegetables and Karma

Often referred to as "woofing", volunteering on organic farms in exchange for room and board is becoming increasingly popular among those dedicated to organic food sources and sustainable living. WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is the international clearinghouse that connects woofing volunteers to opportunities. Volunteers can choose organic and sustainable host properties from around the world. It's a great way to learn the principles of organic farming and sustainable living in a hands-on environment, while providing a valued service to the property owners.

If you're looking for more choice in your volunteer experience, Projects Abroad is a reputable resource for an array of volunteer activities including environmental, medical, human rights, and business. You can choose your volunteer vacation by project or by destination. Help build a school in typhoon ravaged Northern Cebu, Philippines. Feed and care for animals at a rescue center in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Coach a sport in an orphanage in Brasov, Romania. Your volunteer opportunities are limited only by your willingness.

Lessons from the World Travel Classroom

The language and cuisine of another culture has long been a favorite combination for those who travel to learn. This summer spend your vacation learning Spanish in beautiful Antigua, Guatemala. With over 80 Spanish language schools from which to choose, this colonial city is an excellent choice. The popular Mundo Spanish Language School offers relaxing one-on-one Spanish lessons in their tranquil outdoor garden setting, plus volunteer and homestay opportunities for a complete cultural immersion. Antigua's proximity to beautiful Lake Atitlan and its surrounding Maya villages is a delightful bonus.

As long as you're traveling to learn a new skill this summer, why not turn the adventure dial up a notch and learn to scuba dive in Belize? You can become Open Water, Advanced Scuba, or Divemaster certified at one of many dive schools, including Scuba School Belize & Recreational Diving on Ambergris Caye. Belize is the perfect place to receive an immediate reward for learning a new skill. Home to the famous Blue Hole, divers can make use of their certification to descend into the same mysterious 130-ft. hole that Jacques Cousteau did years ago. Take advantage of the countless other breathtaking Caribbean dive opportunities of Belize before summer's end.

All Hands on Deck for Adventure Travel

Here's something you maybe haven't considered for a summer abroad -- tall ship crewing. You can get hands-on training when you sign on as crew with one of the Classic Sailing ocean voyages out of England. There is really no place in the world that they don't sail, so finding an opportunity that fits your summer plans should be easy. Challenge your physical and mental limits, simplify your life, learn new languages and cultures from a multi-national crew, and make lifelong friendships. Maybe you'll become so addicted to this free spirited adventure that you'll discover a new way of life.

You don't have to give up your conscience to be an extreme traveler. Those in pursuit of adventure are often also those who are looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences that offer the ultimate challenges without harming the environment. If that sounds like you, Responsible Travel extreme vacations may offer the shot of adrenaline you seek. White water raft the wilderness of Patagonia, explore remote parts of Mongolia by camel and kayak, parasail and mountain bike your way through the Himalayas. No matter where your adventurous mind takes you, there's a tour for that.

Travel Abroad to Where Dreams Meet Destiny

Sometimes travel is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It starts a little something like this, "I've always wanted to" and goes on to describe "what we've already given up ever doing". This summer give yourself permission to do it. Maybe you have a vague desire to be part of something grand and meaningful, but it hasn't come into focus yet. Here are a couple of unusual ideas to get you thinking about your own dreams and turning them into your destiny.

Do you have a little Indiana Jones in you? If you think it would be epic to be part of a discovery that changes the way we look at the world, how about participating in an archaeological dig? There are numerous sites across the globe currently seeking field volunteers for major digs, but one of the most intriguing locations is Israel. They currently have a dozen significant digs planned for this summer; check out their list at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and start making your summer travel plans.

For the ultimate "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" story, what could be better than telling how you struck it rich hunting for buried treasure? Lonely Planet put together a list of the 10 best places in the world to hunt for buried treasure. Search the Australian outback for opals, dive for gold off the coast of Papau New Guinea, discover a sunken ship worth millions in the Caribbean; the possibilities are intriguing. Becoming a modern day adventurer could be the best way to spend your summer abroad!

With a planet full of interesting travel destinations, we're just getting started. What are your suggestions for how to spend a summer abroad?

Share Your Travel Passion. Reap the Rewards

We wanted to start a web business. What we ended up with was a life. "We wanted to start a web business.
What we ended up with was a life."
Fiona McCardie and Jim Andrew of www.rent-a-villa-in-tuscany.com

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