Fancy a different kind of adventure for your next family holiday? Wave goodbye to the conventional holiday package and delve into the wonderful world that is a family volunteer vacation.
Kids learn from the example that their parents and the people around them set. On a volunteering holiday, you and your family will learn and grow together. It’s a chance for you to realise more of your potential, and build meaningful connections around the world together.
What Laurence (9) and Gilles (11) experienced in Peru, Kenya and Fiji is something you can never learn at school. (...) The work on the Conservation Project was adjusted for the kids. They could help with so many things on the project. They worked with animals and spotted birds and butterflies. It was very tiring for them, but they loved the project to bits.
There are plenty of volunteer options to choose from and so many countries to explore. But don’t let the idea of planning this trip put you off. Take a step back, a deep breath, and have a read through our hassle-free steps to family volunteering holidays.
#1 Choose a reputable organisation to volunteer with
At the top of your list should be choosing a reputable organisation that makes your safety a priority. We understand that you’d do anything to keep your family safe and we feel the same when it comes to the safety of our volunteers. Safety and support are at the heart of everything we do.
We believe that no other provider offers the safety and security to their volunteers that we do. Every single one of our projects are thoroughly risk assessed and every member of staff is trained to our high standards.
Volunteering overseas as a family comes with its challenges and worries. However, you can be sure that your safety is our number one priority. You can read all about the 11 ways we keep you safe while volunteering abroad here.
#2 Find the volunteer project and country that fits your family best
You’ve decided to start your family’s work abroad programme. Now you just need to decide on a few other things like what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go.
Choose your project
Volunteering with your kids might seem overwhelming at first, but they’re usually more open to new experiences than most adults. They might even have an idea in mind or preferences like being around people of a similar age. This will help to narrow down your options. Generally, the best projects would be Childcare, Teaching, Sports Coaching or Conservation as there is plenty for both adults and children to get stuck into.
No matter what project you choose to do, we’ll make sure that the whole family can get involved. You’ll get to make the most out of the experience and make the biggest difference you can while your kids enjoy a learning experience like no other.
Choose the country
Once you’ve chosen your project, the next step is to decide what country you’d like to volunteer in. Family volunteer travel is all about new experiences. Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe or the South Pacific? The choice is yours.
While you’re volunteering, you’ll have weekends free to explore the country so it’s always worth considering this. If you’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu, Peru's the country for you! Kids desperate to go on a safari? Why not try Tanzania or Kenya.
Consider age restrictions
You may be wondering at what age your kids can volunteer. It’s good to keep in mind that most volunteer organisations have an age restriction. We can accept children aged four and up on most of our projects. However, we also allow volunteers as young as two as long as there are two parents accompanying them. If your kids are still young, then a Childcare or a Sports Coaching Project would be ideal. They’ll be able to interact with the local kids and you’ll be able to keep an eye on them while you take on the role of teaching assistant or coach.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by choice, you can contact our Project Experts for assistance. They’ll be able to suggest the best projects and countries for you and your family.
#3 Make sure the accommodation is in line with your families needs
Where you’re going to stay during your family volunteer trip is a huge consideration, especially if you have younger kids. The type of accommodation we offer differs depending on your project but the majority of the time you’ll get the opportunity to stay with a local host family. You can be assured that we’ll always make your family feel safe and comfortable.
All of our accommodations are safety checked and chosen based on neighbourhood ratings, comfort and friendliness of the hosts. With our host families, be prepared to become part of the family, and to be well fed! They’ll give you and your family a real taste of the culture and traditions in the country. This is something you’d never get to experience on a conventional family holiday.
#4 Book the best flights possible
Our recommendation is to book your flights as soon as your application has been accepted. By booking in advance, you can take advantage of lower airfares. It also means you can book flights with the least amount of layovers as possible. This is something you’ll be happy you considered when bringing younger ones along for the ride!
If trawling through the web trying to find flights is not your idea of fun, we have a dedicated travel team who can help. They’ll send you a no-obligation quote for flights which you can take a look at. This means you can spend less time searching the internet and more time with your family.
#5 Prepare your family for the trip
The exciting and educational experience of volunteering abroad as a family starts from the moment you sign up. By preparing your family and kids as best you can, you’ll have a smoother experience once in destination. Talk through everything with them and make sure they’re ready for what’s to come.
After you apply, your volunteer advisor will talk you through all the information you need about your project. This includes what you can expect, the tasks you’ll be involved in, your accommodation and more. They’re a fountain of knowledge so be sure to make use of them!
They’ll also give you and your family access to our cultural awareness courses designed to prepare you for life in another country. You’ll learn all about the culture, the country and what to expect before you arrive. We want you to feel and be prepared before you arrive in destination.
Our in-house visa team will also be able to help you if any visa is needed. This includes visas that you need to apply for months in advance or one you can get when you arrive in the country. We’ll make sure that you’re equipped with all of the knowledge and paperwork you need.
#6 Enjoy your volunteer holiday abroad
Once you arrive with family in tow, we want you to feel at ease. Instead of finding your way around a foreign airport and struggling to get transport, our staff will be there to meet you the moment you land. They’ll take you straight to your accommodation, orientate you to your project and new country, and give suggestions on the best spots to visit.
From that point, they’re there when you need them. They will regularly check in on you, but if you ever have a problem, question or just want someone to chat to, you can reach them 24/7.
If you want to hear from a family who experienced this firsthand, take a read through Bart Fatan’s personal story. He joined us on four projects around the world along with his wife and two kids.