No longer do tourists have to just walk in and out of a very "interesting area" - they can actually VOLUNTOUR. The idea is to "combine travel and service" - says Voluntourism.org.

It's "a really great way to have a holiday AND actively contribute to the destination you are visiting," says Go Differently - a voluntour operator that takes travelers to India, Cambodia, and Bhutan among other places.

Voluntours work in AIDS hospices, teach students English worldwide, and work with injured animals on wildlife preserves. Recently, volunters converged in areas struck with Asian Tsunami and the Kashmir Earthquake of 2005. They cleared spaces, helped build homes, and went back with an immense feeling of satisfaction that can only be acquired through service!

Voluntourism is an important mega-trend. It shows changing attitudes about travel and tourism; it provides travelers an opportunity to get involved in communities they visit so that they don't have to be observers of depravity anymore but DO something - and it gives some nations the chance to invite travelers to their no-cosmetics destinations and situations.

Ideal Voluntours:
1. Young Nomads
2. Baby Boomers in search of a challenge and a way to give back

Picture credit: www.voluntourism.org