Travel is an enriching experience, whether it’s a day trip to the nearest historic site or across the world to experience different cultures. If you want to broaden your children’s horizons, taking them travelling is a great way to start. A volunteer vacation can take this experience to the next level, allowing the whole family to lend a helping hand while seeing a different way of life. There are many ways to organize this type of getaway. Many volunteer organizations will arrange an itinerary for you, or you could simply look for local volunteer opportunities at your intended destination and call ahead to offer your family’s services. Before you plan a volunteer vacation, it’s a good idea to take the following factors into consideration.
Your Children’s Age and Maturity Levels
As you start planning for a getaway with volunteer work involved, it’s best to find an opportunity that’s age-appropriate. Generally, volunteer vacations are best for children over the age of 10, as there may be manual labour involved. Maturity is also important to consider as you compare opportunities. Are your children equipped to see poverty up close? Will they be able to follow directions and understand the greater goals? If your children are between the ages of 6-14 you’ll want to take extra care to keep a close eye on them during volunteer work.
Accommodations and Cost
Cost is another factor to consider. Volunteer travel can often be more expensive than a sightseeing tour, which is surprising to many new volunteers. Most programs are all-inclusive, which means that your housing, meals, and transport will be included in the cost. If you’re travelling with the whole family, be sure to find out where you’ll be staying. Will you be comfortable in a home-stay or hostel with small children? If not, you may need to arrange for private accommodations.
Finding an Opportunity that Fits
There are many ways to help others, whether you’re interested in building houses for impoverished communities or working at an animal rescue. If your children enjoy camping and the great outdoors, consider restoring trails or national parks. Some volunteer opportunities require a specific educational background, which you’ll need to fulfil before you can enroll. For example, if you need a background in social work, it’s worth looking at counseling courses on Now Learning or other educational portals to enhance your skill set first. Consider your family’s skills, interests, and educations backgrounds to find a fit that everyone will be happy with.
Keeping a Positive Attitude
Travelling overseas can be challenging enough, even when you’re just sightseeing or sitting on a beach. When you find yourself in unfamiliar environments where life isn’t so comfortable, this challenge can be multiplied. It’s natural for children to feel tired or cranky, so it’s important to take breaks and keep a cheerful attitude. You might also want to let the children help plan the vacation, so that they feel more engaged with the whole experience.
Volunteering abroad can be an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Yet remember that if you find the cost prohibitive or your children are too young, there are always ways to give back to the community at home in the meantime!