Volunteer vacations are a great opportunity for both volunteers and the communities they serve. If ecotourism and volunteering appeals to you, research local events that are happening during the week of your vacation. The Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast communities have several annual events and volunteer organizations that are lots of fun for the hands-on traveler. Get outdoors on your next vacation for a good cause! 

Traveling with children? Volunteer vacations are a fun way to educate and entertain. Beyond volunteering your time to outside organization, there are many instances throughout a family trip that can serve as life lessons for everyone involved. With a positive attitude and view every aspect of your vacation as a teaching moment.

Take a trip and come face-to-face with sea turtlesLooking to incorporate some volunteerism during your stay in the Gulf Shores area? It would be helpful to remind everyone how fun volunteering can be. Some of these projects are so entertaining that you won't even realize all the hard work you're doing. How would your family feel about getting up close and personal with some baby sea turtles? 

Help turtle hatchlings reach the water
Every year, sea turtles lay eggs along the shores of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. When the babies hatch, they often have trouble finding their way to the water. This presents a problem, putting the endangered species' survival at risk. 

The Share the Beach program in this area enlists residents and travelers alike, bringing them together to help the little turtle hatchlings complete their journey across the sand and into the gulf. If you and your family decide to partake in this annual initiative, then you can expect to sift through the sand in search of turtle nests that are ready for hatching. After finding them, you will be able to assist these baby turtles make their way across the beach to the water.

Attend the annual Coastal Cleanup
In the 2012 Annual Coastal Cleanup, there were over 2 million cigarette butts recovered from our vital coastal areas. Coastal Cleanup is an international effort organized by Ocean Conservancy. Volunteers from the U.S., Philippines, Canada, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Mexico, India, Peru, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, among others, enthusiastically organize efforts to "Get the trash out of the splash!", as they say in the Alabama chapter of Coastal Cleanup. Typically, Coastal Cleanup happens on a Saturday in late September, but remember, you can pick up litter at any time of the year. Be a good example, and others just might do the same.