Updated for 2023-2024
Are you time-poor, finding it difficult to juggle work with family life? Do you feel you’re on a hamster wheel, running in circles as your day flies by, a whirl of constant motion, from home to school to work to sports or other recreational activities?
You conjure visions of a relaxing vacation, imagining yourself on a beach, a cool beverage by your side, while your children frolic in the surf. This daydream seems perfect to many people, as a chance to unwind and spend quality time together.
In reality, many families separate into different interests – even when traveling – with children prone to avoiding family time in favor of playing video games or binge watching television. How can you prevent your kids from asking for the electronic devices you might rely on for screen time?
One solution is to combine a family vacation with meaningful social travel into a family volunteer abroad trip. When you challenge yourself – and your family – on a volunteer trip abroad, you learn new things about others, yourself, and each other, and you grow as a team.
You can lessen the barriers to travel when you choose a destination and a cause that interests you all, and plan your adventure together. Here are a few suggestions:
- Animal Care Volunteer Program – Head to Cordoba, Argentina with your family to volunteer in a small farm to care for rescued animals with local disadvantaged children
- Family Friendly Sea Turtle Conservation & Eco Tour – Take your family to the beautiful island of Naifaru, Maldives to help sea turtles care while learning about marine conservation!
- Beach Conservation in Costa Rica – Teach your children the importance of preserving, protecting, and taking care of natural habitats and landscape on the beaches of Nicoya Peninsula
- Giant Tortoises and Sea Lion Conservation – Amazing opportunity to see Giant tortoises while helping with wildlife conservation projects in the Galapagos Island
The featured programs below offer child-friendly programs and housing, both with a host family or in your own, shared space.
Top Volunteer Abroad Trips For Families
One of the most popular volunteer abroad providers in the world, International Volunteer HQ, offers safe and affordable program placements for families worldwide. Projects can include wildlife and animal care, environment, construction and renovation, arts and music, sports, and lots more. These shared experiences will undoubtedly make your family closer as you spend quality time together. Travel can expand your global awareness and help your children develop an appreciation for different cultures. But planning a family trip can be hard, so IVHQ can offer personalized family volunteer trips to match your budget and interests! They even offer 50% off the registration fee for volunteers aged 15 and under who volunteer with their families! And children under the age of 18 years volunteering with a parent or guardian are welcomed on any IVHQ program, with the exception of Spain, Italy, and Brazil. More detailed information on how to volunteer abroad as a family are here. Below are a few programs that can get you started!
Support children in need by traveling to Phnom Phen, Cambodia on IVHQ’s childcare volunteering program. You and your family can make a positive impact on local kids through this program, where you can help with teaching and homework, arts and crafts, sports, and so much more. During your stay, you will be supported by local staff. You’re invited to stay two weeks or longer, with fees starting from only $430. Learn more here!
IVHQ offers numerous family-friendly teaching programs in Ecuador, including kindergarten support, community development in Quito or Santa Elena, environmental education, street children work, English teaching, etc. Homestays ensure your family will enjoy the cultural immersion. This popular program attracts many international volunteers to Quito. Programs start from $295 for one week. Click here to learn more and to register.
GoEco offers volunteer programs in over 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. With more than 150 different projects since 2006, GoEco’s goal is for you to gain a greater passion for volunteering and to share your experience with others when you return home. And now they have extended that goal for you to experience with your families! Check out these curated family-friendly volunteer abroad editions. Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!
For example, the popular African Wildlife Orphanage project in Zimbabwe welcomes families with children 12 years old and up to care for injured and orphaned wildlife with local families. Tasks including feeding, cleaning, and maintaining their living areas.
Or, travel to the island of Nusa Penida, near Bali, to care for injured sea turtles and then release them back to the sea. Families with children age 5 and up are welcomed, and those aged 7 and under will get a discounted rate! Accommodations will be tailored to suit families. Check out another family friendly volunteering vacation focused on sea turtles rescues in Sri Lanka!
Another opportunity to help out a local community with your family is the Hua Hin Teaching and Childcare Volunteer program. Kids aged 5 and up are accepted with their parents. While your goal is to teach English to the local primary and secondary school students, your children can also help practice English with the locals while being exposed to a different culture.
Travel to South Africa with GoEco and volunteer in a sanctuary for orphaned or injured animals. Volunteer tasks focus on construction at the sanctuary and hands-on care for animals such as elephants, lions, cheetahs, hippos, and hyenas. Spend free time exploring the beaches of Cape Town, visit Addo Elephant National Park, and much more. Tours, game drives, elephant walks, and hiking excursions are available as add-ons. Click here to sign up!
Check out the rest of GoEco’s amazing family-friendly volunteer programs:
- Sea Turtle Conservation and Eco Tour in Maldives
- Marine Conservation in Belize, Cape Town Community Projects in South Africa, Child Care and Teaching in San Jose
- Dolphin Research in Italy
- Education in Bali
- Teaching and Community work in Goa
- Animal Rescue and Conservation in Costa Rica
Projects Abroad has placed more than 120,000 volunteers overseas since 1992, and is one of the largest volunteer travel organizations in the world. Projects Abroad offers opportunities for family volunteers in construction, archaeology, conservation, teaching, and more in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Switch off modern life when you and your family travel to an amazing destination and become part of a completely different community. The cultural exchange program with Projects Abroad allows you to immerse yourself in a new country, learn about people there, and help them to build bright futures. Work alongside locals and learn where your skills fit best. This project teaches you resiliency! Choose to live and work with nomads in Mongolia, do community work with teens in Samoa, join a fishing village in Fiji, explore Cambodia, or volunteer with the Maasai in Tanzania. Learn more and start your adventure here!
Part of a large family, or want to bring along other people? Projects Abroad will tailor a trip for you and your family, and has many years’ experience with arranging projects for groups of five people or more. The organization offers flexibility and variety, and can plan programs year-round. With projects catered to your interests and needs, you can ensure your special requests are met. Its staff is available 24/7 to support you, and price covers food, accommodation, medical and travel insurance, airport transfers, and transport to and from your placement. Projects Abroad can even arrange exciting weekend travel, so make the most of your visit to a new country! Click here to learn more.
Volunteering Solutions has been providing affordable and meaningful volunteer abroad experiences since 2007. Having hosted more than 17,000 volunteers to date, Volunteering Solutions has become known for their unique and impactful service projects.
Volunteering Solutions has a large menu of volunteer programs, including many child-friendly volunteer programs and meaningful trips for families. The three family volunteer abroad programs here are all great options:
- Family Volunteer Experience in Malaysia: Volunteer in the gorgeous Sabah region and help with conservation efforts there. You’ll get to observe wildlife, restore habitats, trek through the jungle and more. Cost is just $925 for one week.
- Family Volunteering in Costa Rica: Travel to beautiful Costa Rica, and help out in a variety of ways during this two-week program. You’ll work in a soup kitchen, clean up beaches, and restore natural habitats. You’ll also get to do fun activities, such as hike to a volcano, zipline through the forest, meet other travelers and more. Cost is just $799 for two weeks.
- Family Volunteering in Kenya: Journey with your family to Nairobi. Witness the indigenous Maasai tribe and explore their ways of living, do conservation work for Africa’s Big 5 wildlife and more. Cost is just $800 for two weeks.
To help ensure families are fully protected on their journey abroad, Volunteering Solutions offers affordable travel insurance at just $12 per week. For more information about Volunteering Solutions and to apply to any family volunteer abroad programs, click here.
Maximo Nivel offers safe, affordable, and high-quality volunteer trips, Spanish language learning programs, and teaching opportunities that encourage families to gain a better understanding of the world through education, adventure, and cultural travel. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has placed 25,000 people on programs that improve and positively impact communities where they work. With placements in Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, Maximo Nivel offers a variety of programs for families and groups, including volunteer programs in childcare, conservation, and more.
If your family is wild about animal conservation, check out this volunteer placement in one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world with Maximo Nivel. Volunteers can choose to assist with turtle conservation, help with animal care, aid in reforestation, share their knowledge through environmental education and cleanup, or try their hand at organic farming. And volunteers who complete 100 or more hours on this project may receive the President’s Volunteer Service award! Read more and get started here.
Travel to Cusco and treat your family to an authentic Peruvian experience, living and working with indigenous communities through the Andean Cultural Immersion program. High in the rural Andes, you’ll volunteer in a Quechua-speaking community, where you and your children can help with agricultural projects, tend to livestock, learn about construction while you help to renovate and paint buildings, and teach conversational English to children in a village classroom. Learn more and sign up here!
Love Volunteers offers more than 200 affordable volunteer travel opportunities in 40 destinations throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers has family-friendly programs in the areas of childcare and development, environment and conservation, and wildlife and animals. If you are traveling with older children and teenagers, volunteer guesthouses are a great option.
Your family will rave about their trip to Vietnam and their weekend excursions to the mighty MeKong Delta. With Love Volunteers, your family can help others, from assisting the elderly to working in a preschool. A customized activity plan can place your family in cultural workshops every day, watching a cooking demonstration while spending dinner with a local family. This intercultural exchange benefits you and your children, as well as the community. Program fees start from $69 per day! Click here to sign up.
Join Love Volunteers’ childcare and development project in Oaxaca, Mexico and provide children with the education they deserve. Your own children will be amazed to learn that the poverty-stricken youth here don’t always receive a proper education, and that volunteers are the best solution. Your family’s support can extend to providing nutritious meals, medical care, and extracurricular activities. Fees start at $259 per week. Learn more and apply here.
Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer travel organization, and while most of its participants are solo, first-time travelers, Plan My Gap Year does organize trips for families and school groups. Working in 17 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, Plan My Gap Year can provide a safe, structured and social experience overseas.
Plan My Gap Year offers an all-inclusive, tailored trip that’s perfect for families and groups, with all housing and meals included. Pre-departure training includes information for parents, teachers, and students, and an experienced U.K. team member will accompany the school group throughout their trip abroad. With financial protection through the Travel Trust Association, your money is 100% protected. The organization also is a member of Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL). Read more and start planning your trip here.
Travel to beautiful Bali and help with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation! Here’s a valuable and educational adventure for your children, who will participate in the feeding, enclosure cleaning, maintenance, and enrichment of a variety of exotic animals. Fees start at $270 for one week. Learn more and sign up here.
Ready To Travel Together?
There are ample opportunities for you and your family to travel – and grow – when you choose to volunteer abroad together. If it’s a dream you’ve been postponing, or one you enjoyed when you were younger, there’s no time like the present to consider traveling abroad, even with the family in tow.
Join thousands of others who are turning to family friendly volunteering that allows everyone to contribute to building a better future for all!