When people find out that I’m a Food and Travel Writer, they always "ooh and ahh" over how lucky I am, (I am) and how they wish they could quit their jobs and just fly around the world eating at great restaurants -insinuating that I don’t really "work" for a living..which just ain’t true. I DO work…it’s just that I LOVE my work! But gotta admit, sometimes I feel a little teensy-bit guilty–which is why I am so interested in STA’s Volunteer Vacations.www.statravel.co.uk (Although volunteer travel is nothing new-the trips usually sound too boring for words. And although I hear wonderful reports about Habitat for Humanity, www.habitat.org/ , trust me, NO ONE would want to live in a house that I built! ) But just reading over STA’s list of offerings got me jazzed. I mean really, how fun would it be to teach Brazilian kids how to surf (and the cool thing is that you don’t even have to know how yourself—THEY WILL TEACH YOU FIRST!) Or, even better, hanging with a real National Geographic-type wild-life ranger in South Africa working with Lions & Monkeys & Dolphins… Oh My! Here’s a sampling of what you will be taught: The course includes bush navigation, basic ecology, animal tracks and tracking, 4×4 driving skills, animal behavior, rifle handling, game drives and walks and they thoughtfully enough to even include wine-tasting! Here’s a few of the trips that I would consider: Ride the Waves at Surf School in Brazil Help teach local children, while improving your own surf skills no matter how good (or bad) they are. The surf school on the famous Ipanema beach helps youths from low income communities gain experience in a sport while maintaining surf boards. The experience includes expert tuition from the schools instructors in organising and teaching the children how to surf. And with only three days of work a week, there is plenty of spare time to explore cosmopolitan Rio de Janeiro. Ride Out with Horses in the Dominican Republic Learn about equine management at The Equestrian Centre based in the coastal town of Cabarete. The Centre offers first rate instruction for riders of all abilities as well as organised tours along the coastal paths. Activities will include grooming and feeding the horses and organising events and competitions. Coach Cricket in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka has a strong cricket background and in 1996 they were the winners of the Cricket World Cup. This is an opportunity to play and coach among people with a passion for the sport. Volunteers coach cricket to children of between 10 and 16 years of age. Coaching takes place at the organised cricket camps or in schools in and around Colombo and Kurunagala. Orangutan Conservation in Borneo By taking a walk on the wild side, animal lovers can get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Volunteers observe and learn about the animals in their natural habitat and lend a helping hand at the orangutan rehabilitation centres of Sarawak. Activities include locating orangutans in the wild for observation purposes, food preparation, cleaning enclosures and monitoring behaviour. There is also the potential to teach English to the Iban tribes people. Two weeks costs £1,644 including flights with Malaysian Airlines and accommodation in shared jungle lodge or guest house and all meals. Book with STA Travel www.statravel.co.uk or call 0871 230 8512.