If the warmer weather has you thinking of vacations — and your wallet thinking of staycations, consider becoming an ecotourist — to travel on a budget while doing good for the environment too. That's the idea behind "Ecotourists Save the World," a book by Pamela K. Brodowsky with a very long subtitle: "The Environmental Volunteer’s Guide to More Than 300 International Adventures to Conserve, Preserve, and Rehabilitate Wildlife and Habitats".
Think puffins are the cutest and want to see them in the Alaskan wild, for free? Then sign up for a stint at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. "Volunteers help park staff survey the local fish and other wildlife, conduct tours, educate school groups and visitors, and maintain the refuge's hiking trails." For giving 32 hours a week for 12 to 24 weeks to this work, you'll get a free stay in a RV pad — plus a small stipend.
Or perhaps where you really want to go is New Zealand. Freeloaders can sign up for the Boundary Stream Mainland Island project, for which they'll "help researchers monitor the North Island brown kiwi, kaka, kokano, New Zealand falcon, and kereru."
Most international volunteer opportunities will cost you some money — but not a lot. Spend four weeks in Guatamala for $1,123 and help breed crocodiles. Spend a month in South Africa for $1,530 — and rehabilitate orphaned, sick and injured baboons. Or get to know elephants in Sri Lanka; a three-week stint costs $963.
Find out about these and other eco-adventures by picking up a copy of "Ecotourists Save the World", which includes a profile, contact information, costs, dates, and application how-tos for each opportunity. The book is in stores now for $18.95. Safe green travels!