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 volunteer work and vacation. Since these trips take a lot of planning, it’s a great idea to keep in mind for the future or as a gift you can give your family for next year’s holiday break. Volunteer vacations are an excellent way to expose your kids to something outside of the resort world that many vacations end up consisting of. We’ve created a list with some great family-friendly options for planning a future volunteer vacation.
“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: This volunteer program offers volunteer trips that range anywhere from 1 to 24 weeks in length with weekends free to explore at your leisure. They have trips that specifically cater to family volunteering. They say that children under 18 are able to volunteer with parents on almost any of their trips, but suggest certain trips to families interested in homestay visits. Destinations include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, Peru and more. For all their details on family volunteering, visit 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 volunteer you do not need to be a guest. They take 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. Free visits 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 the Solar foundation here.
Sierra Club Outings, Family Service Down on the Farm: Traveling to volunteer doesn’t always mean you have to go 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 trip offers activities that will appeal to children and they even make sure your visit coincides with the birth of the farm’s kids (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 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 organization is a nonprofit dedicated to cultural immersion and service with a variety of volunteer trips to locations including Peru and Kenya as well as Washington state and Minnesota, providing a range of options so you can select the best fit for your budget, family size, and comfort zone. Their programs 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 or if you’re curious about 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. Their programs include conservation projects, language lessons, land cultivation, and food education. Family travel blogger, Elaine Schoch of Carpe Travel, tried out their Cancun volunteering program, taking her family beyond the resort life and into the local community of Cancun. Read about the rewarding work they did and what her family learned from the experience in her post, Beyond the Resorts and Beaches…Experiencing the Real Cancun.
With the spirit of giving in mind, we wanted to share a unique spin on the traditional family vacation. A volunteer vacation is a great way to learn and grow with your children by exposing them to new environments and communities.