Volunteering is a fantastic way to model a sense of community and helping others with kids. But it’s not something that can only be done in your hometown. You can volunteer anywhere – even on vacation.
Volunteer vacations – also known as voluntourism or philanthropic travel – is a great way to travel abroad to other countries while helping local communities. And it’s not just for adults – kids are welcome as well. From helping endangered or injured animals to building houses for impoverished communities, there are a number of different volunteer vacations available in countries such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand, India, South Africa, Ecuador, Vietnam and much more.
All of these volunteer vacation ideas are courtesy of Hands Up Holidays. I had the pleasure of talking to Chris Hill, chief experience officer, about the company and the various vacations available to families. Their website has a fantastic search tool that will help you to find the right volunteer vacation for you – including families, honeymooners, solo travelers and various types of volunteer opportunities, such as medical, teaching, building and more.
I’ve got some ideas on age-appropriate volunteer vacations for families below. I think these trips are especially amazing for kids transitioning to a new phase in their life – from going into junior high to taking a gap year. And think about what an amazing trip this would be for families with kids going off to college in the fall.
Which trip would you and your family want to take?
Renewing Rio in Style
From the moment you are met at the airport by your local guide, you know that Rio de Janeiro is a very special place. Your guide’s passion for his or her city is infectious, and you are filled with an urge to explore and discover this new place.
While in Rio you can volunteer and improve the life, health and safety of those in the area by funding and building a house for an impoverished family! What could be more fulfilling than transforming a family and providing them a safe and secure place to life? Building a home does more than put a roof over someone’s head!
This trip is perfect for older children in high school or before heading off to college and your trip costs start at $5,850 for an 11-day trip.
Elephants were historically extensively used to move and carry heavy objects such as tree logs, but with deforestation and loss of habitat, elephants in Thailand face their greatest challenges ever.
You can help care for elephants at a center in Northern Thailand. Help these beautiful creatures and gain an insight into Thai culture as you get to know the people who permanently care for the elephants.
Volunteer tasks are varied according to the season and needs at the time, but you should get to:
Prepare meals, feed and bathe elephants. Help preserve the rain forest, and help with replanting trees. Learn about diseases affecting elephants and how to treat them when they are sick.
This trip is recommended for families to work together and starts at $3,650.
Conserving Costa Rica
Assist at a rescue center for injured, orphaned or illegally traded animals in Costa Rica. Help provide these animals with a better existence and at the same time discover the importance of preserving the natural biodiversity of this stunning country for future generations.
Everyone, including younger children, can enjoy getting close to the animals – such as sloths, kinkajous, raccoons, owls, peccaries, monkeys (spider, squirrel and howler monkeys), macaws and parrots and even help feed them.
This trip is perfect for younger and older children alike and starts at $6,990.
Luxury Volunteer Vacation in Malawi
You can choose from a range of Community Volunteering Programs matched to suit your skills and get a chance to volunteer in style. Share your skills in the community during the day and spend the evenings relaxing at the forest lodge.
Share your skills: Whether you are a project manager, football coach, artist or advertising executive, the young people of Ntchisi will benefit hugely from your skills.
This trip is recommended for families and children of all ages and starts at $5,990.
You can help build a home for needy families in an impoverished village just outside of Antigua. There are also other inspiring projects for people with specialist skills, such as doctors and pharmacists.
Fourteen-year-old Chloe Bohannon was so inspired by how easily she could change a poor family’s life by building a 13 x 19 foot block home that she realized she was not going to be satisfied building only one home. She came up with the idea of taking her volunteer vacation pictures and using them as a fundraising tool.
This is a great trip for kids of all ages and starts at $3,950.
All photos courtesy of Hands Up Holidays.
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