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Living Longer, Living Better

Tips on taking a volunteer trip

Thinking about helping? Here are some programs to consider

Barbara Richards says she was amazed by the spirit of the people she worked with in Kenya. Barbara Richards says she was amazed by the spirit of the people she worked with in Kenya.
By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / February 27, 2011

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The website over50andoverseas.com lists organizations that accept volunteers over 50. Here are some programs operated by New England nonprofits:

Earthwatch Institute (www.earthwatch.org) recruits about 4,000 volunteers a year to join scientific research teams and collect field data in rainforests and wildlife conservation areas, among other places.

American Friends of Kenya (www.afkinc.org) runs two-week trips for up to 40 volunteers who help provide medical, educational, and other forms of assistance to Kenyans.

United Planet (www.unitedplanet.org) offers volunteer programs around the world. Prices start at $945 for two weeks in Mexico and go up to $8,265 for a year in India or Nepal.

Is such a trip right for you?

Alexia Nestora, founder of the industy blog VoluntourismGal.com, says older travelers should ask these questions:

What is the average age of travelers?

Does the operator offer emergency medical insurance?

What are evacuation plans in case of a sickness or political issues within the country?

How far is the nearest hospital?

What are the showers and bathrooms like?