Tired of the same old beaches? Do you want to have fruitful summer vacation with purpose? Consider exploring the world of sharing and make an impact while you travel. Learn about worker cooperatives, intentional communities and sustainable living. Vacation on a shoestring and develop relationships by volunteering your skills in trade for food, board and having a truly integrative experience. Travel for free and make new friends with Shareable’s Ultimate Guide to Traveling without Money or take a staycation and grow to enjoy your own corner of the world.
Here are some unique ideas and destinations for a shareable vacation that might be the next step in creating a meaningful life for yourself. It's never to late to start living your dream, and it could start with this summer's vacation.
Shareable City Vacations
If you don't have the budget to go far, try a staycation or use Shareable's How to Share guides or engage in creative community endeavors: throw a block party or host a Share Fest with sustainable living skillshares, a really really free market, art party, healing arts share, and clothing, book or seed swap. If you are on the East Coast, try Asheville, North Carolina or Ann Arbor, Michigan, both quaint model sharing towns I've visited recently and have been written about in Shareable. To find your sharing way in any new town read our guide “How To Share Your Way To An Eco-Friendly Vacation.” If you are on the West Coast, see Portland and the Bay Area below.
Take a Co-cycle tour across the US while visiting and learning about cooperative working and living spaces. It's a fun, but rigorous touring schedule that's best for avid cyclists. The deadline to apply is April 8th. Or kick back and relax at Breitenbush, an affordable hot springs resort in Oregon run by a worker cooperative/intentional community that so co-op it hosts the Western Worker Cooperative Conference. While you're there, stop by Portland, Oregon to get a broad taste of sharing culture and visit local worker coops while biking around a model bike friendly town. Take a tour of the San Francisco Bay Area's beautiful coastline, hills and redwoods, and while you're there, see how many worker coops you can hit up using this map. For more participatory fun, stop by any one of the many collective bike kitchens in the Bay, and Noisebridge a famous hackerspace. If Europe is your thing, visit Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, the famous worker cooperative complex in Basque, Spain and learn how to create an autonomous cooperative economic region. See this video about Mondragon - what could be more inspiring!
Intentional Communities and Ecovillages
Skip Venice and visit Damanhur at the foothills of the Piedmont Alps, a thousand plus member holistic intentional community, that also built the famous eighth wonder of the world - the Temples of Humankind. While you're in Europe, stop by two other large communities - Findhorn, Scotland and Freetown, Christiana, a self-governed, car-less neighborhood of 850 people in Copenhagen. Check out Ecotivity's list of work exchange opportunites at ecovillages. Most ecovillage websites have work exchange, internship, visitor and workshop programs listed so check those and contact them before showing up. Make an inventory of your skills and offer some they might need. Tour the US on bike and visit intentional communities after watching the film Within Reach for inspiration. See the Federation of Intentional Communities directory for listings, which span the US, including quite a few in the Midwest, where the FIC is based out of. At these sites, you will learn skills from sustainable living to how to live in community and integrate more with nature.
Organic Farms and Sustainable Living
Travel around the world on a shoestring by offering part-time labor for the organic farming movement while learning new skills for self-sufficient, sustainable living. Several websites offer organic farm work exchange opportunities, including projects like natural building, fruit tree management, water catchment, renewable energy, small scale livestock, and permaculture. Opportunities exist for all skill and commitment levels from educational paid internships to casual short-term volunteering. Growfood.org in the US, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and Help X all have farm work and other exchange opportunities around the world. After examining these sites and hearing from friends who've done it, organic farming is spectacular on Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand – there are are so many diverse farms in these places, it would take a lifetime to visit all of them and they are beautiful destinations in their own right.
Herb Pharm, a leading herbal medicine producer, has a free work exchange Herbaculture Internship Program in three sessions half of the year in Oregon. For natural building work exchange opportunities search the Natural Building Network and Cob Workshops listings, including some international projects to work on. Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri has a summer long natural building internship. Bike N Build offers eight cross-country bike tours across the country during which you help build affordable housing and raise funds for it too.
If you want a new, fulfilling cultural experience, try exploring the world by volunteering in developing countries. For a wide array of casual peer-to-peer type work exchanges around the world, visit WorkAway.Info and select your desired work and country to visit. If you have a well developed skill you want to offer, check out this Wiki of Without Borders organizations. For pre-arranged volunteering experiences, see Cross-Cultual Solutions or GoAbroad.com. You can also apply for travel assistance grants through Travelocity's Travel for Good program.
One helpful piece of advice I've received from folks who have tried these type of vacations is that they can be life-altering positive experiences. So not coming back to your job may be an option to leave open. If you have the chance this summer, try something new, get inspired, and start being the change you want to see in the world. And please add your favorite shareable vacation ideas in the comments.