Why Family Volunteering Is The Best Idea
Traveling is a true joy. Be it a windswept road trip out to the West/Left/Best Coast, the chance to zip up your jacket on a trek through Patagonia, or viewing the constellation of starring sights in Paris, none can deny that travel broadens the horizons of families. But family volunteering has a different effect on the broadening that your family experiences. Over the last several years, parents have begun to desire the opportunity to give their kids a taste of the “real world” and that has been made evident by the increased number of families that participate in family volunteering.
Why is family volunteering the best idea? Because it offers you, as a parent, the opportunity to teach your kids a valuable lesson: There is more to the world than what you experience at home.
How to make your family volunteering trip great:
1. Discuss the challenges
Take some time to discuss the challenges that you’re likely to experience on a volunteer trip. Children who are unaccustomed to poverty will likely encounter some serious things. Explain to your kids that the trip could be heartbreaking and difficult but let them know that you will process the experience together, as a family. Your family is going to return home with a new outlook on the world, and that is invaluable.
2. Explain the differences
Children are never too young to learn about the differences in cultures. Let kids ask questions about why things are the way they are, and do your best to answer them. If you don’t know the answer, ask someone or do some research. Teaching kids how to respond to cultural differences will be teaching them a valuable lesson for life.
3. Plan ahead
Your volunteer location may be well-developed or very remote, but either way, you should make your family’s health a priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you begin receiving vaccines at least six months prior to your trip. Not sure if you need vaccines? Look to the CDC for medical advice as it relates to your travel destination. You also need to make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy for every member of your family that is traveling. Travel insurance policies from IVC cover travelers of any age for the same low price. That’s just one way we make it easier for families to take volunteer trips.
4. Remember the experience!
When you return from your family volunteer trip, help your kids process what they have just experienced. This is an important step for every volunteer traveler, so it may be good to do it together as a family. It will be hard to recreate the experiences you had while family volunteering abroad, but encourage your kids to continue serving others via local volunteerism.
There’s something special about making memories with the whole family, whether the kids are young or already graduated. Consider volunteering, or even voluntourism, for your next family vacation!