Where will this summer take you?

— Sophie Card contributed with this report

As summer fast approaches, many of us are still wondering about the best way to spend it. Whilst you could work or travel, here are some alternative activities to make this summer one to remember.

At the mention of ‘au pair’, most people picture pinafore-clad nannies, but being an au-pair for the summer has become one of the best ways to experience a new culture.

It means becoming part of a family, helping with domestic chores, and taking care of children, while sharing a house with the hosting family. Companies like the British Au Pair Agencies Associations (http://www.bapaa.org.uk) can find and organise a hosting family, which means most of the leg work is done before you leave.

From helping one family, to helping whole communities, with a life of comfort at home, what better way to spend your summer than helping others? Every helping hand goes along way, and companies like Camps International can help set you up with community projects in Africa.

Josh Donnelly spends his summers taking people on pub crawls around Rome. Photo: Katie Bergin

Suzie Bawden, a first year advertising student, volunteered in Kenya: “They aim to give young people an opportunity to make a difference to others who really need it, while having the chance to explore a beautiful country and make new friends.”

Tasks vary from teaching English, to helping with the day-to-day chores, but whatever you end up doing, the experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For Bawden it was also life-changing.

“My experience changed me into a completely new person,” she says.

If you fancy something a little different however, you could try one of the lesser-known forms of volunteering. Kibbutzim takes place on farms in Israel where workers are needed when Israelis are called up for National Service.

A lot of manual labour, like farming and gardening is involved, so being active is a must as days start pretty early. Volunteers come from all over the world, so there are plenty of chances to make new friends. There’s no limit on how long you stay, but the more time spent there, the more free excursions you get to enjoy with the other volunteers!

For those who come alive at night and enjoy the loud and lively vibes of a holiday scene, working as a bar crawl staff may be the summer job for you.

With July and August being the busiest tourist months for holiday destinations, and many young people taking a relaxing break, what better way to spend it than showing them the best places to drink!

Popular places, like Rome and Portugal need volunteers to help lead tourists to the hottest night spots abroad.

Twenty-one-year-old Josh Donnelly, a University of Lincoln business student, works for www.pubcrawlrome.com: “It is a brilliant way of spending a summer enjoying the eternal city by day and going out with great groups of people at night. It’s the best job I have ever had and is never dull!”

Couch surfing is the newest travel phenomena to take over the Internet, but is only for the adventurous! Home-owners post the location of their free couch on the website, allowing travellers to get in contact to request to crash on the sofa for a few days.

There are free couches everywhere in the world, which can make travelling to unusual places that bit cheaper, and a whole lot more fun! The website http://www.couchsurfing.org/ has over one million users advertising their couch, so whether it’s Berlin to Beijing, Croatia to China, or somewhere off the beaten track, you’re bound to find someone with a sofa to spare.

You can even read reviews of how the host was from other couch-surfers, so you know if the experience will be a positive one.

Whatever you end up doing this summer, make sure you get the best out of it, stay safe, and have fun!

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