Make a Difference by Volunteering While Traveling

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For a while now I’ve been feeling a pretty strong pull to not only experience a bit more on our travels, but also give back to some of the communities we visit. Our family gets so much from the places we go, that it seems like the right thing to do, and I have no doubt it will make our experiences even richer. Being realistic, with young kids, it is not always practical or possible to routinely mix travel with volunteer efforts, but it will get easier with every passing year, and there’s no time like the present to start.


Volunteer at a school with the Andaz Costa Rica

Our next scheduled family trip is to the Andaz Costa Rica which has an established nonprofit partnership already in place, and I very much hope we are able to be a part of their efforts on our next visit. They have opportunities to visit and assist in programs at local schools, or even just bring a backpack full of school supplies to donate. That sounds very doable even for a young family who may not have the ability to be hands-on with their time.

I can’t wait to get back to Costa Rica and play a small part in helping some kids there.

Play with a shelter pup in Kauai

Another really cool program that I hope to participate in on our next trip to Kauai allows you to ‘check out’ a shelter dog to take them on a field trip to a place like Kalapaki Beach, Waimea Canyon, or anywhere that dogs are permitted. I know my girls would have a blast doing this on our next trip, and hopefully, it gets the pup some exercise and exposure thanks to the ‘Adopt Me’ vests they dress the pups in before their big day.

Grand Hyatt Kauai or St. Regis Princeville

We can mix beach time with pup time in Kauai

Put a smile on the face of children battling an illness in Orlando

When my girls are older, I would love, love, love to spend a day on a trip to Orlando helping out at Give Kids the World Village. Give Kids the World Village is a 84-acre, nonprofit resort with 168 villas in Central Florida that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. This village looks like a theme park itself with so many on-site activities that are tailored to children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Adults and children at least 12 years old who are visiting the area can volunteer for as little as a few hours at Give Kids the World Village.

I have a friend who stayed at this village a few years ago with her sweet son, and from what I can tell, they enjoyed the heck out of their villa, daily ice cream, swimming, meeting the characters at the resort, and of course personalizing a gold star that gets placed on the ceiling of the Castle of Miracles and Star Tower.

Take part in Hyatt’s month of service

This month (April 2018), Hyatt properties all around the world are taking part in a month of service and inviting their guests to join them in giving back. You can join Hyatt team members to help paint a community center in Chicago, serve lunch at a homeless shelter in Houston, build homes in Jakarta, assist with equine therapy in Dallas, cook at the Ronald McDonald House in Louisiana, clean beaches in Flordia, or donate clothing, toys, and books to children in Russia.

I’d love to hear about some ways that your family has made a difference by helping others on your travels.

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  1. We went to the school near the Andaz in Costa Rica and had a wonderful experience! We brought backpacks full of supplies and got to hand them directly over to the kids. The adults did some English lessons, and the students shared their music lessons with us. So awesome!

  2. There are lots of informal options too. When he was in South America, hanging out at a small, pretty impoverished coastal community – it had good surfing 😉 – my 20something son wanted to volunteer at a local school. He asked the bartender at the hostel for advice, and soon presented himself to the principal of the school attended by the bartender’s son. They accepted his offer enthusiastically and he was soon helping to teach English. With few resources and classrooms composed of kids ages 6-16, they were grateful for the help and he was glad to give back.

      • BTW, he had no formal teaching credentials or experience but he is fluent in Spanish. So he taught the kids to count, the colors, simple conversational phrases and sentences, etc. and enabled them to practice what little English they knew. Later, on the beach, he’d often run into some his students who gave him surfing pointers!

  3. It can seem trivial to help others in small ways. I remember my wife helping with vacation bible school summer camp events in Romania just prior to when they joined the EU. They would take photos and print the photos of the kids to take home to their parents. Most of these families had little or no family photos so it was minor gesture that ended up being a huge deal to these families to have a photo of their young children. Some cruise lines now offer options to help local schools or others. “Social Impact” cruising excursions I think is the term they use.

    • Never underestimate the impact of a seemingly small gesture. I love that cruises are making this sort of effort easy for travelers to take part in.

  4. Our kids brought backpacks filled with school supplies last week to the Andaz Papagayo. We hope to full on volunteer trips when they are a little older.

  5. THIS. This is what differentiates your blog from all the others and what will always keep me coming back on a daily basis. Hugs to you Summer!

  6. I love this idea and have been wanting our family to do something more meaningful like this for a while but did not know where to start..please continue to post about different opportunities as you learn about them..I follow your blog everyday so they will not go unseen..thanks!

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