What to Expect: The FUN of a Family International Volunteer Trip

family travel May 14, 2023
Family on safari on international volunteer trip

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

PROVERBS 16:9


 

While the goal of a Family International Volunteer trip is to work hard and bless others, it is certainly a far cry from an “all work, no play” situation as you will see as we share the fun of a family international volunteer trip. We have had some amazing experiences during our family international volunteer trips that have made them not only memorable because of the work we’ve done but also very enjoyable because of the cultures and locations we’ve had the chance to tour.

These vacations, all coordinated through Globe Aware, are some of our favorites, and even though we work diligently when we travel, we also always have a great time. Here are a few of our favorite fun things about family international volunteer trips!

Sharing the Faith As Part of the Fun of a Family International Volunteer Trip

Whenever we travel, we make an effort to be mindful of opportunities to share our faith in Christ. We get to meet a lot of new people who we likely will never see again, and we do not take that lightly. During our family international volunteer trips, we’ve been able to share our faith with local residents and coordinators, other volunteers, fellow travelers, and friends back home who are interested in hearing about our experiences. No matter where we are or who we are with, we try to be open about our faith. 

We do this by maintaining our regular family routines, which include: 

  • Prayer
  • Singing Christian songs
  • Wearing clothing that reflects our faith
  • Doing our best to have a positive attitude at all times
  • Finding the joy in our circumstances…even when things go sideways!

World Wonders

God has filled the earth with incredible beauty, and these trips have allowed us to experience some of the world’s most well-known and gorgeous sites as part of the fun of a family international volunteer trip. During our family volunteer trips, we’ve had the opportunity to visit many historic locations, such as:

  • Machu Picchu
  • The Mayan Ruins of Tikal
  • The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa
  • Volcanoes and natural hot springs in Costa Rica
  • Salt mines in Peru

We’ve also seen an incredible number of animals and birds in the wild that we would never see in the United States outside of a zoo…and sometimes animals you wouldn’t even find there! We also were able to enjoy a short safari at the end of our family international volunteer trip to Kenya.

If you’re considering the fun of a family international volunteer trip, know that your program coordinator should be able to work a day of sightseeing into your week to allow you time to enjoy some of the natural or man-made wonders of your region. We highly recommend you take advantage of this! Seeing a photo of Machu Picchu is one thing. Touring the ruins with your own two eyes is something else entirely.

A Global Diet

It’s a well-known fact that new places mean new foods, and it is undoubtedly true that we’ve eaten things we would never have attempted in the United States due to our family international volunteer trips! One of the most interesting delicacies we’ve ever tried was guinea pig, which they eat in Peru. We have also tried common foods such as beef and chicken, but they were prepared in new and different ways with unique spices and flavors that made the dishes unfamiliar and exciting and added to the fun of a family international volunteer trip. 

We’ve also loved trying exotic fruits, juices, candy, desserts, and beverages that are unique to each region. We have loved having the opportunity to have three meals together as a family every day during these trips. It is rare for our family to have that experience together at home! A good organization such as Globe Aware will ensure that meals and clean water are provided during your trip, so you will not need to worry about finding or providing your own daily meals.

A Variety of People

We have the opportunity to meet some truly great people during these trips which adds to the fun of a family international volunteer trip. Local coordinators, fellow volunteers, the people we are helping, airplane passengers, drivers…the list goes on. Sometimes we get to spend days with them, while other times, it may be a small, fifteen-minute interaction. No matter the duration, we have loved getting to know all kinds of different people all over the world through these family international volunteer trips.

Family Experiences

The experiences we have had as a family have truly created irreplaceable memories. We’ve gone swimming in hot springs in Costa Rica and with penguins in the ocean in South Africa. We went horseback riding through the rainforest in Guatemala and swam in a jungle lake, traveled by train for hours to see ancient Machu Picchu, and saw monkeys in the wild from our resort windows. These extraordinary experiences have helped cement our relationships as a family. They are memories that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

 

Trekking the World

We love to explore the world as a family and learn about other cultures: their languages, foods, education, transportation, housing, occupations, and so on. God has blessed others differently in other parts of the world, and it is fascinating to see His grace displayed this way.

On a family international volunteer trip, you get the opportunity to go into the homes of local residents and see how they live, what they eat, and some of the intimate details of their daily lives. This means you get a unique “inside look” that typical tourists aren’t usually privy to. Local residents will often prepare meals for you to show their appreciation for the work being done for them, which is both special and humbling and part of the fun of a family international volunteer trip.

“Provision” often looks very different from culture to culture. This is beneficial for both kids and adults to see. Much of the “stuff” we think we need is not necessary to happiness, as many of the people we’ve met on our journeys live content and happy lives without the luxuries we are used to having. After our trip to Peru, we really came to appreciate a hot shower because the water at our lodging was heated by solar power. This meant that on a cloudy day, our water was often not warm at all!

Conclusion

During our trips, we have had incredibly memorable experiences that we will treasure forever. While the primary goal of our travels is the volunteer work we are there to do, we always find time to have fun as a family and take time to appreciate the unique region and culture around us through touring sites, trying new foods, and building relationships.

We trust that God will use us to bless those we are there to help and that He will also refresh us through these trips. While they are a lot of work, we always return home satisfied, fulfilled, and looking forward to our next family international volunteer trip!

If you are still trying to decide if a family international volunteer trip could be right for you, check out 8 Powerful Reasons to Consider Family International Volunteer Trips with Kids

Key Points:

  • You can have amazing, fun experiences as a family during a family international volunteer trip.
  • You will be able to experience things together as a family that would not be possible in the United States or even as a general tourist to these regions.
  • You will learn things as a family firsthand.
  • You will meet amazing people who will inspire you.

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