Are you interested in learning more about family volunteer vacations, and want to know which programs are best suited to your family? Whether you’re researching charity holidays for families, non religious mission trips, or just affordable family vacation ideas, here’s the information and inspiration you need to plan your family volunteer trip!
Family volunteer holidays are an unforgettable way to expand your global awareness, explore a new culture, authentically experience a country and get to know its people and culture, all while giving back to a community that needs your support.
Taking the family abroad can be costly - think expensive resorts and over-priced tours, but family volunteering is an affordable way to travel, with the focus firmly on spending quality time together, authentic experiences and helping communities in-need. Just imagine helping to rebuild a school together in Argentina, or traveling to Bali to experience the vibrant culture while contributing to meaningful community-driven projects. There is no doubt volunteering abroad will be something you will cherish forever, and the valuable life lessons volunteering instills will stay with your family long after you return home.
Keep reading to learn more about how to volunteer as a family and recommended family volunteer opportunities. Know what you’re looking for? Head straight there:
- Where are family volunteer vacations available?
- Accommodation options for volunteering families
- How to choose a volunteer project to work on as a family
- Recommended family volunteer opportunities
- What support will my family get?
- How safe are family volunteer vacations?
- Tips for family volunteering
- Read a review from a mother that took her daughters volunteering
Where are family volunteer vacations available?
As the world’s leading volunteer abroad organization, IVHQ, has safe and family-friendly volunteer abroad programs in 45+ destinations around the world. You can volunteer in Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Pacific and USA. Keep reading, to discover the volunteer opportunities that lend well to families or explore the unique volunteer program in Indonesia that was custom-designed with family service trips in mind. Otherwise, consider which one of the 45+ destinations you’d like your family to deep-dive into the culture, cuisine and traditions.
What accommodation options are available to families that are volunteering?
The style of accommodation available can be different between each of IVHQ’s volunteer programs.Therefore, when you’re trying to figuring out where to take your family volunteer vacation, considering the accommodation options available can be an important factor. We recommend that families with children under the age of 15 look at our volunteer abroad programs which offer homestay accommodation, rather than those which offer dormitory-style accommodation. This gives you and your family added flexibility and privacy.
Our volunteer programs that can accommodate families together in home-stay accommodation include Indonesia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador - Quito and Santa Elena, Guatemala, India - Delhi, India - Kerala, India - Dharamsala Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Peru - Cusco, Peru - Lima and Tanzania. If you are looking for a more social setting and the opportunity to live in a volunteer house alongside other international volunteers, your family can enjoy the comforts of a private room while volunteering in Argentina. In Bali, families can also be accommodated together in private villa accommodation.
We recommend you get in touch and speak directly with one of our Volunteer Travel Experts to discuss which volunteer program will suit the needs of your family best.
How to choose a volunteer project to work on as a family
For families volunteering with young children, our Childcare projects are generally the most suitable volunteer projects, as these allow children to become involved and interact with the other children. An Environment and Conservation project may also be suitable for families with children who enjoy working outdoors and don’t mind getting their hands dirty!
When it comes to your volunteer work, your family members will be placed together if you all wish to take part in the same volunteer project. If you have children under the age of 18, they will need to be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times, and therefore you’ll need to be on the same project as them for the duration of your family volunteer vacation.
The best family volunteer opportunities
The IVHQ team are passionate about the volunteer support services that we provide and we are committed to working closely with each of our volunteers to ensure that they are selecting the most appropriate volunteer destination and project to suit their needs. We understand that each family is different and for this reason we encourage you to contact us directly so that we can work with you to find the best option for your family. To give you a starting point, we have listed five awesome IVHQ destinations for families…
Family Volunteering in Bali
Our volunteer program based in Bali’s cultural hub of Ubud is well suited to family volunteering, given the family-friendly accommodation arrangements, proximity to tourist activities and tropical climate! On this volunteer program, families with children under the age of 13 are accommodated in a private villa (rather than a volunteer house), which provides families with an extra level of space and freedom. We recommend the Kindergarten project for families volunteering in Bali, as this project involves plenty of hands-on work to keep the children engaged. Families will have the opportunity to work alongside locals and gain a unique insight into Balinese culture and customs, making it a family trip like no other.
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Indonesia
This volunteer opportunity was originally designed specifically for families so the team are experts at creating unforgettable family experiences and engaging young children in volunteer work. With a focus on conservation, the family-friendly volunteer program in Indonesia is perfect for parents and offspring who enjoy the outdoors, yoga and surf! You and your family can spend your time aiding conservation efforts through organic gardening, marine surveys, or assisting the community through education support. All while enjoying world class surf breaks, snorkelling, morning yoga and phenomenal Indonesian cuisine.
Volunteer in Argentina
Our volunteer program in Cordoba, Argentina is perfect for families who want to gain a cultural insight, have some flexible time, and participate in Community Development and Childcare-focused projects. Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer house and private bedrooms with private bathrooms can be requested in advance for families (subject to availability). While Spanish language ability is not required, there is ample opportunity to sign up for language lessons, which are a wonderful educational component to the program. You also might like to give the tango classes a whirl! Flexible start dates allow new volunteers to join on every Monday of the month. For volunteers from the Northern Hemisphere, this program provides a wonderful summertime escape to your winter holiday breaks!
Volunteer as a family in Zambia with IVHQ
Calling all adventurers looking to experience the wonder of Africa, while being in a safe and supportive environment. The IVHQ Zambia program is an awesome option for volunteering as a family. You will be accommodated in a family-friendly environment and the local team will ensure that you are placed on a meaningful project that is the right fit for you. When it comes to spending your free time, volunteers are spoilt for choice! You can take part on safaris, go zip-lining, cruise the Zambezi, go shopping at the local markets or, if lucky enough to be there during a full moon you can watch the sunset over the Zambezi then check out the amazing optical illusion that is a lunar rainbow through the mist of Victoria Falls. Zambia is a fantastic location for family volunteering and volunteers all ages, offering a great way to get involved in impactful projects in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Volunteer in South Africa - Table View
With the option to upgrade to a family-room style accommodation, volunteering in South Africa - Table View is an authentic experience with creative and innovative project types, perfect for adventurous families. Based in Table View, just 30 minutes from Cape Town central district, families can be involved in a range of projects from Surf, Skate and Swim to Kindergarten. Weekends are full of adventure in South Africa, climb Table Mountain or Lions Head, visit the Boulders Penguin Colony or see if you can spot all of the Big Five on a safari.
What support will my family get?
We know that traveling abroad with a family can at times feel daunting, so IVHQ is on call to support you and your family every step of your journey. From helping you select a destination best suited to your family’s unique needs, to coordinating your airport pick-up, meals, accommodation and program orientation - we’ll take care of it all!
Regardless of the type of volunteer work you choose to give-back on, when you arrive in your destination you’ll be connected with a dedicated local team to support you 24/7.
How safe are family volunteer vacations?
No doubt you have have some questions around your safety while abroad. IVHQ programs are tried and tested by thousands every year. Our outstanding safety systems and track record set us apart - we are the world’s safest organization. Having placed 85,000+ volunteers abroad, we’re always happy to speak with you to ensure that all of your questions are answered and that you feel comfortable with your family volunteer trip plans. Through our online safety training, comprehensive information booklets, ongoing support from experienced Program Managers, and round-the-clock support from our in-country teams - volunteers are well supported to make the most of their time abroad.
Read a review from a mother that took her daughters volunteering
Molly Dalton, USA
I have always loved traveling, but often felt like such an outsider when doing so. I thought it would be nice to see a country as more of a local rather than a tourist, and IVHQ offered the opportunity to live with a host family and experience the culture from the inside. The goal of the trip was for my children to see that not all of the world lives as we do, and to expose them to different cultures and ideas.
I think the girls’ eyes were opened to how different, yet similar our lives are on all parts of the globe. Every parent loves their child, everyone wants the best for their family, and we all have similar basic needs. What they were not prepared for was seeing how people have to manage with the lack of some basic necessities, like clean water and enough food. You can read about my daughter’s take on volunteering abroad as a teen here.
Sharing the volunteer experience has been invaluable to my family. We now have a different frame of reference when we look at the life we have at home. It is wonderful to work on a project together, especially when it involves discomfort like riding a hot bus, waking up early, or eating less than tasty food because someone can usually find a laugh in a tough situation and it brings us all closer as a family.
Children all around the world love to play, and in every country my daughters have been included in the local games even if they share no common language. It’s great to see kids from such different backgrounds playing together and being able to share a universal and enjoyable experience. One of the unexpected benefits of volunteering on a project is living/working with others. My girls were young when we volunteered in Africa and most of the other volunteers were college age. The girls had the best time ever hanging out with the grown-ups, playing cards, watching movies, and just getting to know the other volunteers, and as a result, we have friends in the far ends of the globe. No matter the age, volunteers will bond over the shared experience. I can still picture a communal meal of questionable origin sending silent eye rolls and giggles at the table from all present age 8 to 68.
I recommend doing research on the country or getting a guide book which can give you a good idea of what to expect in your host country. IVHQ provided us the logistical support - picking us up at the airport, giving us an overview of our country and took us to our host family, which took most of the logistical stress off us. When choosing a destination with my family for the first time, I wanted something I was comfortable with so I chose a country or region where I had previously visited so I had a better idea of what to expect as far as food, costs and safety. If you have never been abroad but have many ethnic neighborhoods in your town then spend some time there to get the feel of the culture and become familiar with your chosen country’s offerings. When choosing a project I wanted to be sure my young children would be involved so they would not feel left out. Almost all countries offer child care or teaching, which is a great fit for children because kids love kids all over the world.
Tips for future family volunteers…
- Take initiative with your program - parents, kids, everyone. You get as much out of it as you put in. You don’t want to look back and have regrets.
- An important thing to keep in mind is that all of the volunteers are there to do something positive, make a difference, and have a great time.
- Depending on the country, you can buy a very basic cell phone that can be used to contact your placement or family members.
- If you really cannot go without mobile data, you can purchase a local SIM card and put it in your phone if it’s unlocked. Check online or call your wireless provider to see if you need to have it unlocked.
- Traveling with your family is like having a personal support system, which is always great. Sometimes you really need someone to listen to you vent a bit, or joke around with.
- Your host family is offering up their home to you and the other volunteers. Keep this at the top of your mind, especially if you or your children are struggling with the difference between your home and accommodation in country.
- Definitely go on weekend trips.
- Taking pictures to remember your trip is a must, but don’t spend the entirety of your trip behind a lens.
- Choose a pack over a suitcase, and pack light (it will leave room for souvenirs). Choose quick-drying fabrics (athletic wear is always a good bet) and pieces that can easily mix-and-match.
- Embrace the local cuisine instead of trying to find what you or your children would eat at home. This can be difficult if you have picky eaters, but do your best. It will help you get to know the culture, and save you a lot of time and money
If you have any questions or want to speak with a member of the IVHQ team, please contact us - we look forward to hearing from you!