I take my tips on being a good person from the movie Clueless. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Clueless just a rip-off of Jane Austen’s Emma?” Yes it is. But Emma never had a funny third act involving the Pismo Beach disaster relief fund.

Doing good deeds for others can be highly rewarding. It can also lead to some mighty fun travel opportunities.

With so many organizations around the world needing helping hands (and so many cash-strapped bleeding hearts wanting to assist), the volunteer vacation was born. The biggest incentive of this pastime is that some non-profits are willing to subsidize the cost of your trip and lodging or offer tax write-offs on the getaway.

Don’t know where to go for spring break? Then you’re just the person to mobilize and clean up this nation’s beloved parks and trails through the American Hiking Society’s volunteer efforts.

A visit to this charity’s Web site (americanhiking.org) will provide do-gooders with an annual volunteer schedule outlining clean up initiatives for the entire year. Choose from vacations in Arkansas or on Catalina Island to name a few. Each trip’s cost, focus and time frame is detailed.

For all those Björk and Sigur Rós fans out there, Working Abroad (an organization for students, workingabroad.com) offers the chance to visit offbeat Iceland. This land of gnomes and elves is ripe with natural resources like hot springs and lush greenery that span as far as the eye can see.

However, with the country’s recent bankruptcy filing (yes, the entire place is B-R-O-K-E), you can bet your bottom dollar these folks need a little extra help keeping the place clean. From late June 2009 through August 2009, Working Abroad will be teaming with big-hearted guys and gals to place them in various cities that are in the most need of a pick-me-up.

The cost is steep for some, but incredibly inexpensive if you do the math. A two-week program runs roughly $750 US. That covers airfare, lodging, meals and materials for your work.

Most flights overseas, depending on when you book them, cost that much just for a one-way ticket. So, while your friends are waiting in long lines at Disneyland this summer, you could be changing your life by assisting a section of the world that still remains a mystery to many North Americans.

However, if you’re one of the few people who absolutely can’t afford the price of a trip, consider getting paid for your travel. This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not.

By getting certified to teach English as a second language, you will not only give yourself a professional teaching credential, but you’ll also become a powerful international commodity. Many ESL schools in Asia and South America are desperately seeking native English speakers who can teach local men, women and children how to converse with a charming U.S. accent.

Since the inception of the EU, it may be harder to find work in most European countries, not to mention that you’ll be competing with the coveted English accent. Still, certification is relatively easy. Many schools offer distance learning programs that start as low as $200 for a 40-100-hour program.

I received my certificate nearly three years ago through i-to-i (onlinetefl.com). The instructors were extremely helpful and the school also offered free job placement. Shortly after my course ended, I had offers from a small school in Korea and one in Brazil. Both provided teachers with free lodging and a salary of $2,000/per month (to work 40-hours a week) for the entire summer.

Gain a new skill that just may catapult you into a new profession or lead to lasting memories.