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Frommer's 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference Paperback – October 5, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: 500 Places (Book 25)
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Frommers; 1 edition (October 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470160616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470160619
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description

Make a profound difference in how you travel.  This guidebook leads you to places around the globe where you can serve communities while exploring them in a unique, connected way. From caring for orphans in Delhi, India, to teaching English on the beaches of Salvador, Brazil, to tracking dolphins in Oahu, Hawaii, or building a school in Madagascar, you'll find an adventure that matches your interests and lets you see your destination with new eyes.

The book will inspire you with both short- and long-term travel choices, while giving you accurate pricing, trip provider contact information, suggestions on nearby sites to visit, and advice on how to pick the right trip for you.

See the World in Extraordinary Ways

  • Care for baby elephants in Sri Lanka

  • Restore a medieval village in Tuscany, Italy

  • Work with scientists inside the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

  • Live with the Maasai people in Kenya

  • Teach swimming to children in Fiji

  • Study mammoth bones in South Dakota

Find a Place Where You Can Make a Difference

Work the Homeless World Cup
Pitch in on the Pitch - Melbourne, Australia

Tiger Temple
Buddhism & Big Cats - Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Marine Ecosystem Study
Underwater Photography in Paradise - Gau Island, Fiji

Cheetah Conservation
Farm Living in Namibia’s Largest Safari Park - Windhoek, Namibia

Orphanage Support
Helping Out In Big-City Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Khmer Cultural Projects
The Traveling Teacher – Cambodia

Cultural Preservation of the Kuna People
Preserve History & Participate In It - San Blas, Panama

Tracking Gray Whales
Protecting Pacific Giants - Flores Island, British Columbia, Canada

Measuring Farming Techniques
Promoting Agritourism in Bordeaux - Bordeaux, France


‘This inspirational guide offers a glimpse into the unwavering courage of the world's most downtrodden and underprivileged survivors.' (Real Travel, February 2010).

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Customer Reviews

It's grouped very nicely and it allows for quick searching through the locations.
Alexander Lucard
And of course, although this book focuses mostly on exotic locales, many ways of making a difference can be done right in one's own community.
C. E. Stevens
The book is, as noted, very well laid out logically, and is very concise and honest.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By aliled VINE VOICE on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The recent rise in interest of holidays that involve charity work makes this book (or one like it) something of an obvious choice for a travel-related publisher. Frommer's 500 Places Where You Can Make A Difference has some utility of a sort in providing a starting point for people interested in using their spare time to humanitarian ends. But it's a very weak start.

This book has some serious flaws. Among these are a rather meagre look at the actual benefit of spending one's time performing good deeds, both for the traveller and for the presumed recipient. Many of these programs are expensive, and it's rarely (if ever) made clear how much of the money actually goes to the "right" place. I've done a lot of traveling in odd places, and I know for sure that spending $3000 for a week or two to teach English in a very inexpensive place isn't doing anyone much good, unless the great bulk (like 80% of more) is actually going to the supposed beneficiaries, and in a beneficial way. Is it? Can't tell from this book.

The book also tends to romanticize these projects and their likely results. Many of the countries listed would take a few weeks of visiting before you'd even have a sense of bearings; it's not likely you'd accomplish much of anything in a week or two. The contexts are misleading - no, you won't really be "Hunting Vlad the Impaler" in Romania. I've spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe (for example), and I've spent as little as an hour or two in a village before being asked to consider teaching English there, with food and board paid (plus a little for extras) . . . so it seems crazy for me to think one should pay $2500 for the privilege of doing the same for a period as short as two weeks.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am not a big fan of Frommer's but the topic of this book intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot. I was a bit skeptical at the start, as a few of the first suggested activities felt more like "eco-tourism" (with the emphasis on TOURISM) than grandiose ways to save the world. Not that there is anything wrong with eco-tourism, but at least as I think of it, I see it as more the avoidance of a negative (i.e. "leave no footprint behind!") rather than the creation of a positive as this book claimed in the introductory notes was its mission. However, as I continued to read, I became more and more interested and amazed by the suggested activities, and convinced that yes indeed, these are places and actions where one really CAN make a difference in the world.

I love travel, but had never thought of doing many of things suggested in this book, largely because I had thought of them requiring a larger time commitment than most of us would consider reasonable. That is, most people can't take a year or two off to save the whales or feed the starving in India without serious negative consequences for their own life or career. As idealistic as many of us are, pragmatic constraints often come to bear. But one of the things the reader will quickly note about this book is that many of the suggested activities have a duration of a week or two, which is often a much more manageable amount of time. Many of the activities cost a good deal of money to engage in ($100+/day), which on the one hand goes to a good cause, but on the other can quickly make a large dent in ones savings given that travel to many of these locales is not cheap in itself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Herblady22 VINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A review of 500 places where you can vacation to make a difference. The truth in reviewing would be found only after arranging vacations with the guide, and I cannot do that. Chances are the information will age rapidly. However this is a great first step for those of us who would like to do good during our times off, but who have no idea where to start.

The listings range broadly, from digging up dinosaur fossils in the National Parks to rebuilding homes of the elderly in Cambodia. You can help in HIV programs in Cameroon or guide tours in English at X'ian. Renovate homes in West Virginia or clean up beaches in Galapagos. Establish libraries in Nepal or schools in Jamaica.

The book's organization is by type of opportunity rather than geographically, which may be more useful for dreaming than actually planning a trip. Topics include Animal Welfare, Working with Children, Teaching, Scientific Research, Healing the Environment, Building Community, Health, Teaching through Sports, Bridging Cultures, Crossing Generations, Special Events, Getting Political, Spiritual Service and opportunities for people with special skills like medical professionals.

The most difficult thing about the book is the lack of contrast between the awful red ink that summarizes each opportunity and the cheap paper which makes the summaries unreadable. Now I have no problem with using cheap paper on a guide which has a limited time span, but this is difficult physically to read. One hopes that in future editions they go to brown or blue instead of red ink.
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More About the Author

Andrew Mersmann is the author of the global guide to Volunteer Vacations: Frommer's 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference (GOLD Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation: Best Guidebook of 2010). He has volunteered on service projects ranging from working and living with the homeless on Los Angeles' Skid Row to saving stranded pilot whales in Key West to rebuilding a Haitian orphanage post-earthquake and a humanitarian/medical excursion by horseback in Rajasthan, India. He is a travel writer and Editor in Chief of Passport Magazine and has been a restaurant reviewer, entertainment writer, and celebrity profiler. After a long run with non-profit arts organizations in both Los Angeles and New York, he stepped into travel writing via an extraordinary journey to Machu Picchu. He has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends on satellite radio.