Do good on your next Texas vacation with 'voluntourism'

This article written by Marika Flatt originally appeared in Texas Standard on May 11, 2017.

There are opportunities to work with non-profit agencies during your travels across Texas.

Have you ever thought about doing a volunteer vacation? It’s an idea known as “voluntourism.” Think about it – you experience a new place while also experiencing all of the good feelings that come along with making a difference.

At the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, you can participate in Destination Humane. You pick a cat or dog that is waiting to be adopted and take care of the animal for a week. Grand Hyatt is a pet-friendly hotel, and kids ages 8-13 can join Camp Humane, where they can learn about the responsibility required to take care of a pet.

Take lots of photos with your new furry friend, because those pictures will go on the San Antonio Humane Society’s website to help get them adopted. And if you can’t bear to leave your furry friend behind, you could always adopt it yourself. What better way to remember your trip?

Or, you can help make great new discoveries about evolution at the Earthwatch Institute. Help paleontologists dig for bones at Arlington Archosaur site.

This two-week voluntourism trip involves two days of training, and lots of hiking, digging, and sorting. Volunteers make nightly trips to visit nearby attractions and sample the local cuisine.

Also based in Dallas, Equest is an award-winning nonprofit that’s been providing equine-facilitated therapies and horsemanship programs to children and adults with disabilities for the last 35 years. It is also home to the Hooves for Heroes program which uses equine activities and therapies to empower veterans, first responders, and military families to take charge of their civilian transition and assume new roles as community leaders.

Equest relies on volunteers to help with barn maintenance such as cleaning stalls, painting, and refilling food buckets and working in the Freedom Garden. Of course, one of the favorite responsibilities is Horsemanship including grooming, leading and spending time with the four-legged friends of hope and healing.

The city-owned Texas Horse Park is more than 300 acres of whispering windswept prairie and the grandeur of century-old “trophy trees,” located in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest.

Those are just a few of the options for getaways that do good.

CJ Bankhead