Travel briefs

Travel-booking Web sites are starting to offer information, assistance and even discounts and grants for volunteer vacations. now provides information about “voluntourism” through organizations such as Earthwatch, Cross-Cultural Solutions, Globe Aware and Take Pride in America. The Web site is also awarding $5,000 grants for volunteer vacations through its Travel for Good program. Two awards will be offered every three months to customers, and one will be offered to a Travelocity employee. The next deadline for applications is June 30. Details at also has a volunteer vacations link at in conjunction with the United Way of America. You can use the link to search and book volunteer vacations around the country. In addition, the Web site is offering discounts for organizations such as churches, schools and other nonprofit groups planning a trip to volunteer somewhere. To qualify, you must need hotel rooms and flights for 10 people or more to pursue a volunteer project, and your group must be a qualified nonprofit with 501c3 tax-exempt status. See the Web site for details. is highlighting hostels around the world that connect guests to volunteering opportunities. Visitors at the Skyway Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia (lodging from $6 per night), can work with local orphans. The Hostel Hoff, in Moshi, Tanzania, from $13 a night, can arrange for visitors to help in local schools.

At the INOUT Hostel near Barcelona, Spain, from $22 a night, some of the staff are developmentally disabled, and guests can assist them in performing their daily tasks, including cleaning, gardening, maintenance and working in the hostel restaurant.

At the Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, from $12.50 a night, visitors can volunteer at children’s soccer camps in local townships. Details at

Amtrak offers deal for campus visits

Are you the parent of a high school student, planning a trip this summer to look at college campuses?

If you’re considering traveling by train, take a look at Amtrak’s free companion travel offer for campus visits. The discount allows a parent or guardian to travel free when accompanying a high school junior or senior on a college campus visit.

There are some restrictions. Reservations must be made at least seven days prior to travel. The discount is not available on the Acela Express or Auto Train, and seats are limited and subject to availability. There are also a series of blackout dates during which the discount is not available. The blackout dates include May 25-28 and Aug. 31-Sept. 3. The offer is available for travel through Dec. 14, with several additional blackout periods in the fall.

For details, go to Amtrak is making the offer in conjunction with Collegia, which works with various regions to help coordinate and market higher education opportunities.

Travel classes, seminars

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door hosts free travel classes from 10 to 11:30 a.m. most Saturdays at the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St., Edmonds.

  • Sicily and Southern Italy with Julie Coen, 10 a.m. June 2.
  • France with Steve Smith, 10 a.m. June 9.
  • Photography Basics for the Traveler with Patricia Ridenour, noon June 9.
  • Digital Photography with Ralph Portillo, 1:15 p.m. June 9.
  • Scandinavia with Dave Fox, 10 a.m. June 16.
  • Ireland with Pat O’Connor, 10 a.m. June 23.
  • Photography Basics for the Traveler with Patricia Ridenour, noon June 23.
  • Digital Photography with Ralph Portillo, 1:15 p.m. June 23.
  • Italy with Heidi Sewell, 10 a.m. June 30.

    Reservations are recommended. Call 425-771-8303, ext. 298, or go to

    The Savvy Traveler offers travel seminars at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. most Saturdays at 112 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds.

  • Climbing to the Roof of Africa with a Maasai guide, 10 a.m. June 2.
  • Change Your Life Through Travel, 10 a.m. June 16.
  • Learning to Pack like a Savvy Traveler, 10 a.m. June 23
  • Italian for Travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, July 26 to Aug. 23.

    Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-744-6076, 877-225-1994, or go to

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