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Have you ever seen one of those heartwarming stories on the news where someone is off helping others in a faraway land, only to wish you could do the same? Not only can you do the same, it’s fairly easy. We’ve teamed up with Meagan Wristen from Mommy Travels to learn how she has incorporated volunteer work into their vacations.
As the kids and I have traveled the world, we have found some neat opportunities to volunteer in schools, orphanages, and communities. There are opportunities all around you to give back and do good while traveling. Here are some of the top ways I recommend incorporating volunteering into trips with kids.

Work in an Orphanage

Feeding kids at Orphanage

Feeding kids at an orphanage. Photo credit: Mommy Travels

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of countries around the world that have orphanages. Often times in third world countries, parents simply cannot provide for a child adequately, and they end up placing their child into an orphanage to ensure they are fed and cared for. One country where you see this a lot is Honduras. While we were in Honduras, we found a local orphanage nearby and arranged to help out. Helping out can mean a lot of different things. Here are some ways you can help at an orphanage.

Provide a meal: We had the opportunity to help provide a meal for the children. The orphanage we were at had no running water and no electricity. We made the meal where we were staying and then took it over. Keep the meal simple, but make sure it also has protein.
Provide clothes: You can buy clothes to hand out or bring used clothes. It’s not a huge deal if the clothing is used or not. Any effort is appreciated. Going in, I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought a suitcase filled with my kids’ hand-me- down clothes. I can almost guarantee you that your hand-me-downs are better than what they already have, so just bring what you can. Keep in mind that some of the kids will be the size of adults and are often left out. Try to bring clothes for the older kids too.

Play with them: They are kids, after all, and kids like to have fun. You can bring soccer balls or other toys and plan on leaving them there with the kids when you are finished playing the game. If the place you are visiting is hot like Honduras, fill up a bunch of water balloons and have a water balloon fight.

Passing out clothes at an orphanage

Passing out clothes at an orphanage. Photo credit: Mommy Travels

One thing to keep in mind when giving out stuff at orphanages, based on our experience, is that the owners will sell whatever they can. Expect this and don’t get upset when you come back in a few days and everything you gave them is gone.

There are several ways to find an orphanage to volunteer at. You can ask a church, do a quick Google search, or contact a nonprofit doing work in that country.

Work in a School

Eden's new friend braiding her hair

Eden’s new friend braiding her hair. Photo credit: Mommy Travels

There are hotel chains like Beaches/Sandals that provide opportunities to do volunteer work in schools. We were lucky enough to participate in several of the Sandals programs. One of them was a “Reading Road Trip” with the Sandals Foundation in Jamaica. During this experience we read to students and worked on reading with Jamaican school children. The other opportunity was “Pack for a Purpose” in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos where we brought school supplies with us that were donated to area schools.

Provide school supplies: You probably bought too many school supplies during the back-to-school season and need to get rid of them anyway. If you are visiting an area where students could benefit from some of these extra school supplies, bring them with you!

Volunteer your time: Find out if any of the local schools will allow you to do volunteer work. You can work in a classroom and give a child or two some one-on-one attention. If you are traveling to an English-speaking country, or a country that teaches English, you could offer some of your time to help with reading.

Earning volunteer credit

Earning volunteer credit

One unexpected benefit we’ve come across when volunteering with a more established program is recognition. With the Sandals foundation each kid earned ten hours of volunteer time and were given a certificate to reflect this. They are able to use this on a resume, National Honor Society application, and more.

Recognize Little Opportunities

Sometimes, opportunities will present themselves to you.

Pack items to hand out: After our time in Honduras, I started packing a little differently. Depending on where we are headed, I will pack a few extra pairs of shoes to give out to children we come across that don’t appear to have any. Although passing out shoes may sound expensive, you will often find that a pair of flip flops is better than nothing, and kid’s flip flops can be surprisingly cheap! I will also pack clothes that the kids have almost outgrown, so at the end of the trip we can give the clothes away instead of bringing them home with us. If you do not come across someone to give these items to during your trip, leave them with your hotel’s staff. I guarantee they know someone who could use the items.

Carry small amounts of change: If you are in a third world country, it is likely that you will be approached by children. Plan ahead of time by having a buck or two that you can give them. There will be more than one child, and although you may not be able to help them all, you can easily help out a handful. If you are approached while having a meal, offer to buy the child a meal as well. Almost every time we’ve offered this, they have said yes.

As you venture out into the world, I highly recommend working in volunteer work into your vacations. There are few things more important than teaching your children the importance of helping others. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a big over the top project, every little bit makes a difference.

Travelocity’s Travel for Good™ program aims to inspire travelers to give back in ways big and small throughout their journeys. To learn more about the program, get involved in a local community or start planning your next Travel for Good trip, please visit Travelocity.com/TravelForGood.

Meagan Wristen of Mommy Travels is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. 

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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