Why we "volunteer travel" as a family

January 23 | Guest post by Lainie Liberti
Lainie in Ecuador.
There is no denying that traveling as a family is a bonding experience. Slow travel is another way to experience the world, allowing each family member to immerse themselves into a new culture. But volunteering as a family together adds a whole other dimension to that experience, with countless rewards and growth opportunities.

On our travels, my son Miro and I have volunteered with numerous organizations and the experiences have enriched our travels ten-fold. Some of the volunteer experiences we've had together include: volunteering at an animal shelter in Belize, a dog and cat hospital in Nicaragua, contributed to a sustainable community in Guatemala and volunteered at an organization for family nutrition, a performance arts school for street children in Nicaragua, and at a children's library in Ecuador.

If you are considering volunteering as a family, there are so many resources and opportunities for volunteering abroad on the web and countless communities that will welcome you with open arms. However, in this post, I wanted to share with you some of the benefits you can expect to experience as a result of your volunteering experience.

Volunteering as a family…

  • Creates a hands-on way to teach and practice compassion, tolerance, flexibility, cross-cultural understanding and global responsibility to every family member.
  • Provides an opportunity to step outside of the pressures produced by mass media messages promoting self-absorption and materialism.
  • Allows each member of the family to experience a world outside their own, and learn about a different culture through the people they are serving.
  • Empowers children to believe they can make a difference in the world by "giving" and "doing."
  • Provides all family members insights into what they are capable of achieving and increases self-esteem.
  • Expands children's understanding of social issues in the surrounding world.
  • Teaches new life skills.
  • Provides families with meaningful time together to express common values.
  • Creates family bonds through sharing the challenges associated with their volunteering post.
  • Produces shared memories that last a lifetime.

Does your family volunteer together or have plans to do so? What do you guys do?

Join our community!

  1. Love, love, love this! Now, I just need to convince my husband that we could do this… We do a small amount of volunteering locally, but I did a fair bit of it internationally in my life before husband/kids. Lainie & Miro's blog is inspiration!

  2. I would love to know more. When you started with your son. A how to type thing. Safety concerns ect. Also costs!

    Thanks

  3. This is so awesome! I've thought extensively about volunteer traveling as a family when the kids are old enough.

  4. My husband and I were WWOOFer's in New Zealand and I think it would a great experience with kids helping out too.
    Willing Workers On Organic Farms.

  5. I think its great to volunteer in places like farms and you can gain a lot of experience. But whether you volunteer alone, as a couple or as a family:
    DON`T do short-time volunteering in places for vulnerable people, like orphanages or shelters for street children.
    I could write a very long and text about this here but I´ll better stop myself and share a very thoughtful blogpost instead.
    [URL="http://www.goinganyway.net/2012/05/24/on-not-visiting-an-orphanage-in-cambodia/"]Going Anyway: On not visiting an Orphanage in Cambodia[/URL]

    7 agree
  6. I think a lot of caution needs to be exercised in doing voluntourism. It is, indeed, a much more meaningful experience for the tourist than simply seeing the sites. However, while it is enriching and wonderful for the tourist, there are many reasons why — especially short-term volunteers — are very harmful for the communities. I think anyone contemplating this needs to step outside their own perspective and think about what we continue to take from the developing world in order to fulfill our own desires.

    http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/2011/01/do-voluntourists-help-or-harm/

    2 agree

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.