For most of us, the holiday season is a time to extend generosity to our loved ones and a reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to celebrate with one another. However, it is also a great time to remember those who might not have those same opportunities and to extend that spirit of generosity to other families as well. One great way to do this is by combining travel to volunteer opportunities. However, figuring out the right volunteer vacation for families takes a lot of planning, so it’s a great idea to present them as a unique travel gift your whole family can enjoy for next year’s holiday break.
And when you volunteer on vacation, you’re also creating an excellent way to expose your kids to something beyond the typical resort vacation where a whole new world awaits. We’ve created a list with some great kid-friendly options for planning your own volunteer vacations.
“Families really want to give back and make the world a better place. They want to find meaningful trips where they can make a difference” – Nancy Shretter, family travel expert
International Volunteer HQ: Those looking to volunteer on vacation can join International Volunteer HQ from 1 to 24 weeks in length with weekends free to explore at your leisure. They also have trips that specifically cater to family volunteer opportunities. They say that children under 18 can dive into volunteering with parents on almost any of their trips, but suggest certain trips to families interested in homestay visits. Destinations for volunteer opportunities include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, Peru and more. Get the details about how to volunteer on vacation at their page here.
Solmar Foundation: Based in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Solar Foundation is a part of the Solmar Hotels & Resorts. In order to donate or start volunteering, you do not need to be a guest. The organization takes tourists on guided tours of the Los Cabos community and stop at a nursing home, an orphanage, and a shelter where families can volunteer and bring donations to the community member in need. Volunteer opportunities run Wednesday and Thursday from 9 to 11 am, making it a great excursion if your family wants to volunteer without dedicating the whole vacation to volunteer work. Learn more about volunteering at the Solar foundation here.
Sierra Club Outings, Family Service Down on the Farm: When you volunteer on vacation, you don’t always have to grab your passport and head to a foreign country. With the Sierra Club Outings program, your family can travel to Pennsylvania and experience life as farmhands for the duration of your visit. Specifically geared towards families, this volunteer vacation for families offers activities that will appeal to children and they even make sure your visit coincides with the birth of the farm’s kids-like baby goats! Participants live on the farm and take part in chores such as milking cows, collecting eggs, feeding animals, and working in teams to strengthen appreciation for work ethic, the environment, and animals. This trip provides children with volunteer opportunities so they can the opportunity to experience the importance of agriculture in a new and exciting way. Find trip details and an itinerary of this week-long program here.
Xperitas: This nonprofit organization is dedicated to cultural immersion and service with a variety of ways to volunteer on vacation. Look to Peru and Kenya, as well as Washington state and Minnesota, for a range of options to select the best fit for your budget, family size, and comfort zone. Their volunteer opportunities revolve around the concept of living and working in a community with local people to provide families with an authentic experience. Xperitas specifically states that they are inclusive of families and do not have minimum age requirements other than minors being accompanied by parents. They encourage you to contact them for specific suggestions if you’re curious about volunteering on vacation and which trips would be suitable for your family. Find out more about them here.
Give A Day Global: This organization focuses on giving one day of your travel experience to volunteering and helping others. Their programs include conservation projects, language lessons, land cultivation, and food education for a rewarding volunteer vacation for families. Family travel blogger, Elaine Schoch of Carpe Travel, tried out their Cancun volunteering opportunity, taking her family beyond the resort life and into the local community of Cancun. Read about the volunteering they did and what her family learned from their rewarding experience in her post, Beyond the Resorts and Beaches…Experiencing the Real Cancun.
Volunteer vacation for families are plentiful near resorts, but you can also find them near cruise ports, too. ShoreTrips caters to both cruisers and land dwellers alike looking for day tours, kayaking excursions, scuba diving, and more. But you can also join their volunteer opportunities. Whether you’re cruising or just staying near a port on vacation, sign-up for ShoreTrip’s Red Cross Community Development volunteer opportunities in the Caribbean and give back to the community.
With the spirit of giving in mind, we wanted to share a unique spin on the traditional family vacation. Volunteer opportunities are a great way to learn and grow with your children by exposing them to new environments and communities.
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