Pay it forward

The kids and I visited the Enid Capron school in Turks and Caicos to donate books and clothing.

Voluntourism – where families travel to locations to volunteer – is increasingly becoming a popular trend in travel. Although you might not be ready to pack up your kids and help build a school in Africa, there are plenty of ways to pay it forward during a family trip. Here are three ways ranging from easy to more complicated depending on what fits your family best.

1. Pack for a Purpose

Pack for a Purpose was founded by Rebecca Rothney after she and her husband began traveling to Africa. The idea behind the organization is that by donating space for less than 5 pounds in your luggage , you can significantly help the communities you are visiting. Pack for a Purpose makes it easy to help by providing a list of locations and needs across the world. Locations include Mexico and the Caribbean, popular spots for family travel.

Pack for a Purpose works with hotels that will accept donations from travellers whether or not you are staying at the resort. Things like children’s clothing, school supplies and sporting equipment get donated to local schools and community projects. They even provide a packing guide to help figure out the best way to pack your donations.

Pack for a Purpose is by far the easiest way to help while on vacation. There is no extra cost besides your donations and you do not need to take any time away from your planned vacation. Just drop off your donations at the front desk and you are done.

pay it forward

Donating Medical Supplies to a Children’s Hospital Photo Credit: Pack for a Purpose

2. Give Kids the World


Photo Credit: Give Kids the World Village

As any Traveling Mom can tell you, Orlando is a hot spot for family travel. With Disney World, the Nickelodeon Hotel and Universal Studios, there is never a dull moment. Give Kids the World is an organization found by Henri Landwirth, a hotelier in Orlando who was often asked to help sick children get to Disney World. Today, Give Kids The World Village is a resort with 144 villas specifically designed for sick children or children with special needs. Countless numbers of volunteers are needed to keep the village running.

Give Kids the World invites families with kids 12 and older to volunteer for as a little as as 4 hours or half a day. So far over 127,000 families have benefited from the work of volunteers at Give Kids the World Village.


Volunteers serving ice cream. Photo credit: Give Kids the World Village

Volunteers can apply for one of the many volunteer positions listed here. Opportunities include serving ice cream, helping kids meet Disney characters that come and visit and delivering cookies to kids around the village.

If you are visiting Orlando in the future, all you need to do to apply is visit the volunteer application page. Its best if you apply two months before your arrival date. Your family will be assigned a volunteer co-ordinator to help pick which positions and time slots best fit into your vacation.

3. Volunteer Adventure Travel


Kids from the Cuzko Kids Project in Peru. Photo Credit: G Adventures

When your family is ready to take voluntourism a step further, adventure travel companies like  G Adventures help you to organize trips based on volunteering.  G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip, created the Planeterra Foundation in order to repay the communities in which his travel company operates by giving back. Besides raising money through donations from travelers, G Adventures and the Planeterra foundation work together to create volunteer based trips.

One such trip is to Cuzco, Peru. Families with children 12 and older can travel to Cuzco to volunteer with the Planeterra’s Foundation Cuzco Kids Project, a drop in centre for kids living in extreme poverty.  Families spend 10 weekdays volunteering with the project by helping to teach English, do homework, make food and run leather-working and jewellery-making workshops. On the weekend, families get to explore Cuzco through tours, river rafting and horseback riding.

How Will You Help?

One thing is for sure, there are a lot of opportunities to help less fortunate families no matter where you vacation. Have you volunteered on vacation? If so post a message in the comments below and let us Traveling Moms know about it!