The Best Family Volunteer Programs Abroad-Volunteer with Children While Traveling

The Ultimate Guide to Family Volunteer Programs Abroad 2023

How to Volunteer with Kids while Traveling

Are you looking for a meaningful way to spend your family vacation or family gap year? Why not consider a family volunteering experience with your kids? Anyone can volunteer with children while they are traveling. You can make a difference in the lives of others, and learn about cultures and needs around the world, while spending quality time together. There are many family volunteer opportunities both locally and abroad. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

How We Started Family Volunteering

When we lived permanently in Atlanta, Ga and homeschooled our children, we always made it a priority to volunteer with kids often.  Our favorite family volunteering opportunities were either helping out at the local food pantry, Solidarity, or consistently attending events with Kids Care.  We have done recycled dog leash making, backpack drives, sorting donated items, helping families shop at the fresh food pantry, and more.

Each time we do a family volunteer opportunity with kids, the children are provided an opportunity to not only build their confidence through giving to others, but to see how much of a difference they can truly make.  We often end up having long and honest discussions about making the world a better place, or making a day brighter for someone else, just by volunteering their time and love.

Recently, SportsGal wrote a research paper on illegal immigration (she chose the topic) and how she feel the world can help or change this issue. And shes 9. I was blown away by the fact that she even knew about this subject, and how thoughtful, caring, and logical her writing was.

When we decided to worldschool and travel full time, it was important to me to make sure we continued to volunteer with kids.  I wanted to be sure we continued to provide opportunities for our children to give back to the world. Immersing yourself in other cultures and experiences is just one side of the coin. But truly seeing how difficult things can be for others, around the world, in all situations, is a chance to be better. A chance to be a better human.

We had thoroughly enjoyed the UNICEF documentary Tales by Light on Netflix, which showcased a variety of locations around the world, the cultures, and the difficulties that children face. I highly recommend watching this series with your children.

Tips & Pitfalls of Volunteering Abroad

When traveling, we like to volunteer through trusted organizations, and are careful to do our research. Many volunteer-tourism companies “setup” volunteer opportunities that don’t always actually help the local communities.

You’ll want to make sure that when you volunteer abroad, you are doing it in an ethical way.

Avoiding Unethical Volunteering

When researching volunteer opportunities, take account of the following:

  • NEVER do/take a job that a local could do
  • NEVER perform tasks that you aren’t actually trained to do at home
  • Research the local community and be sure they aren’t being kept in a cycle of poverty, just to sustain a “voluntourism” cycle
  • Look our for animals that are unnecessarily being kept in captivity. This is a clue that the organization is unethical.

Ask Yourself The Following Questions:

  • Would I still want to volunteer if I couldn’t take any photos to share?
  • Am I qualified to do the job I am signing up for?
  • Will my time here benefit the local community when I leave?
  • Do I fully understand the commitment?

Tips for Volunteering Abroad with Children

Since my children are currently under age 12, I make sure to research each opportunity and be sure they can be fully engaged with the job. If the organization doesn’t allow children, or doesn’t have jobs they can honestly do well, I will look for another options.

I try to ensure the family volunteer abroad experiences are 3 hours or less. This allows for the kids to work hard while we are there, but doesn’t push them past their limits. Its like leaving a playdate while things are going well…they always want to come back for more.

The Best Family Volunteer Opportunities Abroad

Below are some of my favorite sites and organizations that we have volunteered with, and the easiest options to volunteer with kids. Search around and see what feels right for you and your kids. 

1. Go Overseas

On the Go Overseas website you can filter volunteering opportunities by Country, Project Type, and Timeframe.  There are hundreds of family friendly opportunities for you to volunteer with your children.

2. Volunteer HQ

I love this organization and website. There are hundreds of opportunities throughout the world, and I love how they organize the site by types of opportunities, such as childcare, wildlife and animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment, and more.

3. Love Volunteers

If your family is seeking “life changing inter-cultural experiences” around the world, this is the organization for you. Many of the experiences include education, child centered volunteering, and animal conservation.  You won’t find any extra fees on top of your program expense, and each location has been audited by the LV team for safety and security.

4. Plan My Gap Year

This organization offers paid gap year trips in a variety of volunteering experiences. You can plan 1 week or up to 40 weeks of volunteer based travel. This is an organization you pay to organize your gap year volunteering abroad.  While I would highly recommend this for 18 year olds plus, there is an option for under 18’s as well. You can rest assured that your young adult will be well supported, and have the trip of a lifetime with a fantastic group of peers.

5. Projects Abroad

One of my all time favorites, Projects Abroad has been placing volunteers around the world since 1992. This organization can place you with a local family, working alongside them to learn and help the community. You can also have Projects Abroad tailor a volunteer experience just for your family or your group. There are teen trips, family trips, combo trips that include a number of countries in one go, and trips for ages 50+.

Check Out Our Other Helpful Posts:

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