Sometimes it can be a challenge just to gather the whole family together for dinner. Everyone has different schedules, different tastes, and different distractions from the time you’d like to spend with them. So organizing family volunteer vacations might just seem like a headache waiting to happen.
But participating in volunteer vacations can be an incredibly rewarding experience that brings your family closer. When you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, stripped of daily routine, you and your family can rediscover the joy of spending time together, with the shared purpose of doing something good for others.
We believe that family volunteer vacations can present the best kind of travel opportunities for families of all shapes and sizes. The following options are all family-friendly trips offered by Discover Corps. Explore these exciting options for family volunteer travel experiences and discover the rewards that might await you and yours.
It’s one thing when parents can help kids with their homework and maybe get a refresher on long division in the process. It’s an entirely different bonding experience, however, when generations can learn something new together.
Working alongside scientists to help protect manatees in Belize is the kind of educational experience that will stick with every member of your family.
By educating your family on the importance of protecting precious species like the Caribbean’s gentle giant, the West Indian Manatee, every member will share in that knowledge (and hopefully be inspired to learn even more).
Immerse your family in a destination where spirituality and ecology come together. The tropical setting is made even more stunning by experiencing it together.
The power of a place like Bali can be difficult to explain to people back home who haven’t experienced the beauty of the natural landscape and the creative energy that runs through it for themselves.
By learning about Balinese arts and culture, working with local children on creative projects, and taking a workshop on drumming and dance together as a family, you’ll share in an appreciation for this beautiful island and the people you meet there. These are things pictures could never capture!
Every member of the family can roll up their sleeves and get to work at Marino Bellena National Park in Costa Rica.
Whether you’re working with kids, helping with a beach clean-up, or releasing recently hatched sea turtles, a family volunteer vacation in Costa Rica will show your family how hard work can be fun and really make a difference.
Get your family off the beaten path with a trip to the rural towns on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
You’ll still be steps from the beach, but you’ll have the pleasure of immersing yourself in a community that’s far from the touristy resorts that dominate other regions.
Here you’ll work on conversational English with the local youth, giving your family the rewarding experience of developing relationships with people across language barriers. Kids are quick to discover how easy it is to cross those barriers with a quick game of soccer or a fun craft project!
India is a destination that serves up culture shock on a big, colorful platter. Experiencing all of the invigorating sights, sounds, and smells of this beautiful country will give your family memories for years to come.
Dive into the stunning Himalayas and immerse your family in the local culture by cooking traditional dishes and learning about the process of local handicrafts.
All members of your family are sure to bring some of that rich culture back home with them, along with a greater appreciation for the diversity of the world.
Your kids might not have a “bucket list” just yet, but they’ll certainly have bragging rights after visiting the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
Visiting the Sacred Valley of Peru is a magical experience at any age. Sharing it as a family volunteer vacation experience can make it even more memorable.
You’ll also venture beyond this popular tourist attraction by getting involved with the local community, helping local teachers with English lessons, participating in ceremonies with a local shaman, and making dolls out of traditional materials.
Getting up close and personal with the magnificent animals that call South Africa home is a dream come true for any animal-loving child or adult. It allows you to get up close with animals you’ve otherwise only seen at the zoo or in storybooks, while your family helps to protect the fragile ecosystem of this country.
The South Africa attractions Discover Corps visits offer travelers the opportunity to work with lion cubs, baby rhinos, and assist in the care of other injured animals.
But you’ll also learn much more about these animals, beyond their cute and cuddly factor. You’ll learn all about what’s being done to protect them, so that future generations of your family can visit South Africa and see them, too.
Experience East Africa with Mt. Kilimanjaro as your backdrop. Immersing yourselves in the rich Tanzanian culture will be an educational and memorable experience for the whole family.
Locals schools experience crumbling infrastructure and overcrowded classrooms. By seeing this struggle first-hand, your family will develop a stronger appreciation for the things they might take for granted back home.
Experiencing the positive disposition of the local children who learn in these less than ideal conditions is a valuable lesson on the power of a positive outlook when facing challenges in life.
The land of smiles awaits you and your family in two of our family-friendly tours.
In Chiang Mai, you’ll be surrounded by the lush jungle and glittering temples. There will be plenty of cultural exchange for family members of all ages in the cultural capital of Thailand, where you and your family will help make English lessons fun for local students.
Another option is to work with elephants in a remote village, where you’ll experience a much different culture through a visit with the local hill tribes. The elephants of Thailand are under constant threat by a variety of sources. Those threats inspired a Thai family to establish a place where the elephants can roam freely in their natural habitat.
Elephant families are tight knit, and helping the elephants will make yours closer, too!
Family volunteer vacations offer an opportunity for all members, both young and old, to discover something new about a place, about themselves, and about each other. Traveling as a family gives everyone the opportunity to grow individually, while also growing closer, with shared memories that are guaranteed to last for generations to come. -Britany Robinson
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes.