The road often less traveled is usually the most rewarding.

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You can travel to far away lands and try new types of food before snapping pics in front of iconic landmarks. But, what can you do to give back to the country you’re visiting? Volunteering is an alternative to the been there, done that trip. It’s a way to experience life as a local and help a community you’ve never met improve their lives.

By volunteering abroad you are making a positive difference to the lives of others on a much more intimate level, by donating your time, energy and experience. Learn about the people and place you are visiting on a much deeper level than a normal adventure tour.

STA Travel offers volunteer tours that allow travelers to engage in community projects all around the world. From animal conservation and health to education. No specific skills are normally required, just a desire to lend a hand, and learn more about what life is like in communities around the world.

Some of our most popular volunteer programs – and most affordable – can be found in Thailand.

In Thailand, STA Travel features a Thai Elephant Conservation Project that provides travelers with the chance to work with animals. Elephants are Thailand’s national symbol and spending some time helping to conserve them in between beach parties, night trains and more beach parties and add value to your trip. In and around Chaing Mai you can live and work in a peaceful home created for 30 neglected and abused elephants helping to feed and care for them and even bathing them. That’s right – an elephant bath. This could get very, very wet.

If getting to know the locals and environmental conservation is important to you, take part in our Thai Beach & Volunteer Project. Help protect local wildlife in the island of Koh Phra Thong, off the coast of Thailand, that was destroyed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. You can help this community rebuild, and enjoy a bit of beach time on the side.

Teaching English is a popular volunteer project globally, and in Thailand it’s no different. Volunteers have the opportunity to help the hill tribe people in Mae Yao combat the everyday struggles of unemployment, poverty and addiction. This project aims to provide skills training, education and support to enable villages to thrive without sacrificing their cultural identity. Volunteers can help childcare centers, local schools, hospitals and colleges. Participants aren’t in a remote village the whole time, this project guides volunteers through Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and ends back in Bangkok.

Volunteering is a rewarding way to spend your time when traveling the world. Whether you can only get away for a week or two, have longer to spare, or want to include a volunteer stop within a wider trip, there are a number of options to consider that will each make a huge difference to the communities they benefit.

If you want to do something a little different and add an extra dimension to your travel experience, consider a volunteering project.

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