Category: Family Travel

Tips, ideas and resources for families planning a volunteer vacation abroad.

Nov
2

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5 Ways to Make Purposeful Travel Happen with a Full Time Job

Posted by on November 2, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Going on a quick vacation to get away from the office is one thing — after all, the cruise lines will set it all up for you. But what happens when you want more? When you want your vacations to mean more than just a mental break from the daily grind?

It can seem impossible to immerse yourself in a new culture and make an impact on the world when you have a full time job. Trying to do it all and travel with a family? It’s overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to tell you that 8 days is enough to have it all. 8 days on a volunteer vacation, wildlife adventure, or cultural exploration trip will truly feel different than your typical 8 days off and help you get into the right mindset in plenty of time.

Making purposeful travel happen with a full time job, however, takes some creativity. To get the time off you need and to make the most of your experience, consider the following:

1. Ask your HR representative or boss about volunteer travel perks

You may be surprised to find that your company offers special perks (or will make an exception) if you need time off for a good cause. It never hurts to ask if the company has any options for those looking to make an impact. For many companies this comes in the way of a stipend, which can help cover your costs if you have to take unpaid leave, or extra vacation days, oftentimes called “volunteer days.”  

Also keep in mind that sabbaticals are not just for teachers anymore. While still somewhat rare, some companies offer sabbatical time off if you have worked with the company for seven years. Again, if no one in your company has taken advantage of this opportunity that doesn’t mean that your company won’t honor this time-off option. Ask well ahead of time and let your boss know of your plans, and see if you can come to an agreement.

Regardless of which route you choose to take, always create a reason that the time off you will be taking will enrich your life and improve your performance with the company long-term. To give you a head start, read why time off matters to your career here.

Hint: If you’re on the fence and need some convincing for yourself, NBC reported that people who do not take the time off they need are “23 to 27 percent less likely to receive a promotion and 78 to 84 percent less likely to receive a raise or bonus compared to those who do take their deserved time away.”

chiang-mai-with-discover-corps
Chiang Mai, Thailand – Traveling around the holidays also offers the opportunity to participate in holiday celebrations across cultures.

2. Plan your trip around the holidays

Many completely discount the idea of traveling during the holidays because there are always holiday plans with the extended family. This is especially true for families with younger children. Who wants their kid to miss out on Thanksgiving dinner?

It’s important to get yourself out of this mindset. Missing one Thanksgiving at home with the extended family will be worth it if it means creating once-in-a-lifetime meaningful family memories eating the local cuisine in a new culture with your family. The break from the traditional that volunteer vacations offer will last a lifetime, and remember that you only have a short time to offer these kinds of memories to your children.

On the fourth of July, for example, many companies will give two days off. This is a great way to get away for at least 8 days. You can see a few of the Discover Corps trips that are 8 days below.

3. Pitch a “betterment” program to your boss

Piggybacking off of idea #1, instead of inquiring about your options for volunteer vacation and seeing if you can come to an agreement, actually spend your time-off creating a full fledged plan. Many companies offer what are called “betterment” bonuses where each employee is given a small stipend and an extra week of vacation each year, but only to do something impactful. They then have to present to the company what they spent their time doing and why it mattered; thus creating a culture of giving back in the office. Sitting at a beach at a resort or on a cruise ship won’t cut it.

Find companies that offer this perk, and present this to your boss and your HR department as something you would like to implement and give reasons why it is beneficial for employees and the company alike. Here is a great company located in San Diego, California pioneering the way. If your boss still isn’t convinced, remind them that they’ll even earn a tax break.

4. Be transparent and plan for unpaid time off if you can

Galapagos Islands – Family on a Discover Corps trip getting up close to wild giant tortoises at a tortoise reserve.

This should always be a last resort, but it’s something to also plan for in the back of your head. Create a world where a volunteer vacation is more important than getting paid for seven days — by planning. Serious planning. You might be surprised at just how much you can save to make something like this happen for you and your family. It will take longer to get there, but this is an option that your company will almost always approve. Keep in mind, however, that you should be transparent with your company and let them know that this is your ultimate plan. Who knows, maybe with enough time to think about it and watch your dedication, you may catch a break.

If this isn’t possible, following idea #2 and taking paid time off will be the way to go — and that works just as well!

5. Unplug. No working remote!  

One of the most common things that people with full time jobs will try and pitch is a working-remote situation. While this can work in some cases, this will likely not allow you to really immerse yourself in purposeful travel. The idea of purposeful travel is to spend your time working on an ongoing project the helps a local community and/or its wildlife. Even on a cultural exploration trip with Discover Corps, for example, you still have one main purpose for being at each location. You can learn more here.

If you plan to spend this type of volunteer vacation with your family, working remote can be even more of an issue. While many think this is the only way they can make a 10 day vacation work, it’s important to tell yourself this is non-negotiable and focus on one of the other points on this list to reach your goal.

Andahuaylillas, Peru – Discover Corps traveler partaking in a traditional Peruvian ceremony with shamans.

Discover Corps Trips Great for Those with a Full Time Job

Discover Corps offers 8-day trips and 10-day trips, and those have been called remarkable by plenty of our travelers, almost all of whom had full time jobs. If you are able to get more time off of work and are interested in an extension, that’s an option as well. Visit the “Our Destinations” tab above to see what is offered.

A few notable trips designed for those with full-time jobs or children in school:

8-Day Trips

Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Initiative
Galapagos: Family Volunteer Vacation
Dominican Republic: Global Health Initiative
Cuba: Building Bridges (note: all Cuba trips are 8 days or less!)
Belize: Caribbean Wildlife Adventure

10-Day Trips

Thailand: The Elephant Conservation Expedition
Kenya: Safari & Conservation
Peru: Children of the Andes
South Africa: Wildlife Volunteer Adventure

How have you made purposeful travel work with a full time job? Were you given any benefits for traveling with a purpose? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

Oct
19

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18 simple ways to keep your kids entertained on long flights

Posted by on October 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Did you travel as a child? Do you remember loving every second of it? Chances are, you probably didn’t. Once you got where you were going, GAME ON! But traveling can be difficult when it comes to keeping kids entertained on long flights. Rather than anxiously awaiting your upcoming airplane fiasco, do some planning ahead. Long flights with kids can be fun flights with kids – if you play your cards right.

Truth be told, kids of any age can present patience-testing behaviors when they’re cooped up in an airplane for a painfully long time. However, the younger the child, the more prone you’ll probably be to having to deal with boredom (and other possible outbursts). Before you take off, take note of these 18 ways to keep your kids entertained on long flights. Read More

Oct
5

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10 things to do in Thailand (even with the kids!)

Posted by on October 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

One-of-a-kind sights and experiences are around just about every corner when you fancy yourself a seasoned traveler. There’s the Great Wall of China running along the northern borders of China. There are breathtaking pyramids in Egypt. There’s Machu Picchu in Peru. The list is virtually endless.

Then there’s Thailand. This beautiful southeast Asian oasis and hot pot of culture and shockingly peaceful people has more unique things to see and do than you can possibly fit into one trip. To help narrow it down a bit, we’ve gathered 10 things to do in Thailand – many of which you can do with your children, too! (If these aren’t enough, here are 16 more!)

From the lush green mountains of Phuket Island to the absolutely charming elephants found throughout the region, you’ll want to plan your next trip before your first trip even ends! Before your actual vacation, let’s take a virtual trip through some of the best things to do in Thailand.Read More

Sep
21

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Family Vacation Bucket List: Spotting the Big 5 in South Africa

Posted by on September 21, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

We say “South Africa,” you say “safari!,” right? Of course! Having the opportunity to spot the Big 5 animals is a bucket list item for many. And let’s be honest, it should be. When can you see leopards, rhinos, elephants, African buffaloes, and lions in their natural habitat?

When you’re ready to venture off into the wild on your very first family safari experience, planning can be stressful. Rather than spending your time coordinating numerous plans and excursions from afar, take a look at some bundled trips. These are helpful because they (usually) do all of the legwork for you – including planning, booking, timing, scheduling, and sometimes even transportation.

Adventure seekers, animal lovers, and families alike can embark on these adventures! While they’re appealing to all kinds of people, they’re surprisingly perfect for families. When you’ve exhausted the cruises, beaches, and theme parks, it’s time to really wow the kids. We’ll show you exactly how you can do that – and how easy it can beRead More

Sep
14

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Travel like a pro: Packing tips for your next vacation

Posted by on September 14, 2017 · 1 Comment  

Packing tips aren’t just for those of you who are venturing out for the first time. Ask any traveler – from absolute road warriors to those boarding their first flight – and you’ll find one commonality: Packing for vacations can be a nightmare.

First, there’s the baggage fees. Then, luggage dimensions. Oh wait – don’t forget weight restrictions. Add to that the security checkpoints and the ease of use that may or may not come with your luggage. You’ve got a potential disaster royale on your hands.

Eliminate the hassle and alleviate your worries by trying some of our packing tips on your next outing. Who knows – you might end up enjoying the planning/packing process!Read More

Aug
10

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Family Vacation Planning Blueprint: Plan Ahead!

Posted by on August 10, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Name a few things in your life that you do without much planning. Grabbing lunch, walking the dog? Making a pit stop for an extra cup of coffee, buying that extra accessory you don’t really need? These all probably make the list. But what about family vacation planning? Would you jump into a trip with the family with little to no planning?

Of course you wouldn’t. (And if you would, we wish you all of the luck in the world, brave soul.)

Family vacation planning is all about making your life while traveling easier. From budgeting to booking, coordinating schedules, to finding the right activities for your children – once you’ve gotten the planning down, all that’s left to do is create incredible memories with your family! Let’s go over how (and why) family vacation planning is done.

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Aug
3

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From customs to tradition: 9 things you didn’t know about Cuban culture

Posted by on August 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

WELCOME TO CUBA!! (Handshake, handshake, hug, kiss, kiss.) WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE! …Now what?

It’s common when traveling to another country to want to be fully immersed in their culture, at least once you get there. It’s also normal to not be overly familiar with local customs and traditions. Aside from learning these about these things because you’re interested, it will serve you well to familiarize yourself with them before you visit.

You may think you’re knowledgeable about Cuba – and perhaps you are. But the truth is, Cuba (and Cuban culture) has drastically changed since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. While the country is still a “throwback” in many ways (antique cars and historical architecture especially), what you think you know about Cuba may be due for some updates. 

Now you’re ready! Let’s take a look at 10 things you may not know about Cuban culture.

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Jul
13

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Know Before You Go: Key Phrases in Your Destination’s Local Language

Posted by on July 13, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

When you travel outside of your home country, is it essential to speak the local language? In short, no. However, learning a few key phrases native to your destination could be the best trip planning you’ll ever do!

Here’s why: Trying to communicate on some level with locals (anywhere you travel) can be endearing. You’re visiting their country – their home – and you’re showing that you’re interested enough in their culture to at least try to learn.

It’s also all about the basics! While many trips are to predominantly English-speaking countries, or have guided tours with English-speaking guides, you can’t go wrong with memorizing some standard words and phrases. What if you venture off to mingle with the locals? Being able to ask and answer questions would be helpful.

While we can’t cover every country and language, we’ve put together a list of commonly visited countries on our radar, long with key words and phrases in the local language you should get familiar with.

¡Vamonos! (That’s Spanish for “Let’s go!”)

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Jul
6

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Beyond People: 4 Volunteer Vacations That Help Animals

Posted by on July 6, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Volunteer vacations aren’t just about humans and the environment. Not hardly! Animals are such an integral part of our world, and sometimes they need our help. But, how can you help? And how can you do it on vacation?

Many of the animals you’ll see on the trip list below are endangered or very close to making the list. Typically, that means you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to get up close and personal with them (in the wild or in captivity). In the case of the volunteer vacations below, what that means is you’ll be on the forefront of helping them get off that list (or to not land on it to begin with)!

And look, we know you’re here to help. We get it. We love it. But you have to have a little fun while you’re out there, too. You have to see some sights. You need to try the food. These are volunteer vacations after all! Be sure to click through to each trip to see the other adventures you might have in each location.

Read on to see what kind of animals you can help, where you’ll find them, and what sights, sounds, and smells you’ll likely see on your adventure!

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Jun
1

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Family Travel Blogs to Follow in 2017

Posted by on June 1, 2017 · 8 Comments  

Family travel blogs are more than random webpages filled with wanderlust-filled thoughts from strangers. They’re a valuable resource to consider when planning your family vacation. Instead of worrying if you’ve covered all the bases (packing, costs, family friendly locations, traveling with kids, and airline regulations are just the beginning), utilize your friendly online bloggers for experience and advice!

How do you know where to start? The blogosphere is full of an endless number of bloggers, family travel blogs, influencers, “experts,” and more. Do a quick Google search for “family vacation” or “family travel” and you’ll come up with nearly one billion results. One billion.

Instead of sifting through site after site, we’ve put together a list of great places to start when researching family vacations and family travel blogs. Grab your sippy cups and pacifiers, strollers and carry-ons – it’s time to take off!

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