The 411 on Voluntourism, or Volunteer Vacations with Kids

Have you ever noticed how most vacations seem to involve a lot of taking from the local community and not much giving back? As first-world citizens, we have developed a preconception about traveling: that we deserve to be pampered and treated to the best that an area has to offer when visiting. This especially applies to foreign, less-developed countries, many of which have had their most beautiful locations overtaken by tourist resorts.

Maybe it’s time for a new style of vacationing where travelers get to give back to the people and places they visit, all while getting a more intimate look into the local culture. Thanks to voluntourism, this is now possible. While many of the world’s most beautiful and sought-after travel destinations are home to communities in need of vital resources, now vacationers can do something to help.

But wait, are these types of trips suitable for kids? Of course! You will have to do some investigating to find the right vacation package for your particular family, but that’s part of the fun. Plan on volunteering in a country you have always wanted to visit and let the adventure begin!

How Volunteer Vacations Benefit Kids

Want your children to gain a greater appreciation for the things they are fortunate to have? Maybe you would like for them to learn about other cultures and lifestyles? Perhaps you want your little ones to develop a greater sense of compassion for others? On a volunteer vacation, your kids will get to do all of these things, and more.

Children will feel good about getting involved and get a sense of what it means to help others out of the goodness of their hearts. Many communities are friendly and will welcome your kids with smiles and kind gestures. There are also sure to be some local kids who will want to play and get to know your youngsters during the trip.

Kids will learn important skills during their time volunteering. Whether they are caring for animals, building shelters, preparing meals, or harvesting crops, they’ll be learning and growing along the way. They’ll also be making family memories while working alongside mom and dad.

How to Prepare for a Volunteer Vacation

When planning your volunteer vacation, remember to go with something that is within your family’s capabilities. Sure, you want to lend a hand to those who are less fortunate, but you may not be ready for some of the harsh conditions you can encounter on these trips. Time and money are also big considerations. Know beforehand if you can dedicate a full week of your time or only a few days, and make sure you pick something you can afford.

It would also be wise to get an idea of what you want your child to witness during the trip and plan accordingly. Volunteer vacations can be eye-opening to children, who may be a bit shocked to encounter conditions of extreme poverty. Do your research beforehand and if you have young kids, be sure to visit a town or village where they can mingle with other local children.

Tips for Volunteer Vacationing

Kids under the age of 4 will most likely be too young for these types of vacations, but youngsters who are old enough to carry their own weight can usually tag along just fine. Nonetheless, you’ll want to be aware beforehand of any age restrictions for the trip package of your choice. See what kid-friendly amenities are included in the trip as well so you can know what you need to bring along.

Make no mistake, they wouldn’t call it “voluntourism” if there wasn’t some hands-on volunteer work involved. The point is to have fun with it! It’s not often families get the chance to help others and give to those in need while having an exciting cultural experience and meeting new people all at the same time!

What Resources Are Available?

Globe Aware has family volunteer packages for all ages for places like Costa Rica, Brazil, and Ghana. Global Citizens Network arranges volunteer trips abroad for adventurous families who aren’t afraid of getting fully immersed in the communities they visit. Outreach360 boasts affordable family volunteer packages centered around fighting poverty and developing educational programs abroad.

Want to help out a community close to home? Habitat for Humanity does lots of work building homes across the United States. These programs are best for families with teenagers interested in assisting people in need. Other local organizations to consider include Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. A popular choice for animal lovers, this sanctuary is home to more than 1,000 homeless dogs, cats, and exotic animals.

Need more suggestions? Cross-Cultural Solutions offers week-long volunteer trips to places like Costa Rica, Brazil, and Ghana for around $2000 a person. You can also visit Go Eco for information about humanitarian projects all over the globe.

Has your family participated in volunteer work while traveling? What was the experience like? We’d love to know!

Tags : travel   voluntourism   



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