family_airportHave you ever considered a volunteer vacation? Is the perfect trip for your family a combination of relaxation and giving back? We discussed voluntourism on our December 16th twitter party and recapped the conversation for those who couldn’t join.

HOW DO YOU GIVE BACK WHEN YOU TRAVEL? 

@cruisin2blue Love programs like @SandalsResorts Pack With a Purpose where you can pack books and supplies for local libraries and schools!

@barblikos But one thing in learning abt @FamilyReachFndt that I didn’t think about previously was DONATING ALL THE MILES I EARN!

@weekendscount We pack dollar store toys for the children and distribute them when we visit local community centers abroad.

@lovernsavers By shopping/eating local, taking care of the environment while you are there.

@kidsunplugged Whenever at a Caribbean resort I pack school supplies and toiletries to leave for housekeepers each day along w/tip.

@travelermom My family went to Honduras in July. My hubs & kids helped build a church while I worked in the dental clinic.

@TibsTravel Eat local when travel, no chains. Buy art–that’s local and gives back to community.

@Greenloonseco Giving back example of vacations that support wind energy projects for communities in Sweden http://bit.ly/1cG1yG9 

@kimorlando Freeing native plants from invasives was a BLAST. Even teens liked it. Learned a ton from passionate 70 year old.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM VOLUNTOURISM VACATION? 

@barblikos I always thought I would want to work an orphanage but I would want to take all the children home.

@CindyRichards I think employers should give extra week of vacay if you spend it volunteering.

@benandjerrys Yes, we get 40 hours paid per year to volunteer and run several community builds around the globe.

@maryheston Thx for the follow, @benandjerrys You’re a star of our party tonight! & I thought you just made great ice cream!

@Pure_Wander Would love to go off the grid & help w/ my hands in Uganda. Building things is satisfying & needed.

@furrykarma I want to volunteer at Dead Dog Beach in PR where they rescue dogs, then take one home.

@thoughtsfromher I’d definitely want to volunteer at an orphanage. So many ways to make a small difference.

@twokidsandamap We have a friend who runs an orphanage in Zambia. Planning an extended trip for my family to go in a few yrs to help w/projects.

@travelermom We don’t do as much as we’d like. My husband wanted to clean up after the tornadoes last yr but couldn’t get off work.

@nanosmerk Restoring forests back to their original beauty (especially animal habitats).

@kimorlando Dream volunteer vacay: Build school and teach English in Rwanda (we have a friend there).

@MaryHeston We have a friend who built a hospital in Bangladesh. It is amazing but not sure I will ever get there.

@BeckyAdventure I would love to go build houses for those in need.

 HOW DO YOU FIND FAMILY VOLUNTOURISM OPPORTUNITIES?

@travelermom My dream would be to deliver Christmas Boxes for Operation Christmas Child with @SamaritansPurse.

@kimorlando ASK A TRAVELINGMOM! Seriously. When u travel, shoot us a note with your locale and we will help u find a voluntourism opp.

@kidsunplugged And important to find resorts/hotels who are active in giving back to & supporting local community.

@allierose i think people do it through own networks, word of mouth, faith based opportunities.

HAVE YOU HAD TO TRAVEL FOR MEDICAL REASONS? WHO HELPED YOU? 

@MaryHeston Many of our friends in rural areas have to travel to big cities to get their medical care. It’s tough.

@barblikos Yes. We just did a few months ago. It was very hard to arrange everything. Went to TX for leg surgery for kiddo.

@Pure_Wander Had to reach g-ma in Florida during surgery, stressful but blessed we were able to pull it off.

@MaryHeston Relatives who have traveled to MD Anderson & Mayo Clinic. Social media is a blessing to stay in touch.

@AndreaGuthmann It was a dream vacay! Son loved being a citizen scientist!

@KidsUnplugged That’s the hardest part about volunteering with my girls-They get very emotional. Still young.

HOW CAN HOTELS/RESORTS MAKE IT EASIER FOR GUESTS TO GIVE BACK? 

@ramblingstump Email ahead of time w/ needs. Option to add $5 to hotel bill that goes to local charity.

@rychepet Include local fundraisers/charities/etc in their “welcome guides” in the rooms.

@barblikos I would be more apt to stay at hotels that matched my points donations. Who does that?

@motherearth2000 Have lists of local day volunteer opportunities.

@lovernsavers How about a collection basket for unused toiletries to donate to a homeless shelter or women’s shelter.

@TibsTravel Since caring travelers need volunteering on site ideas, hotels/resorts could provide list w/contacts–who accepts help.

@Greenloonseco Hotels can institute Pack with a Purpose / local literacy efforts, green / conservation education for visitors, fair employment…

HOW MUCH OF A FAMILY VACATION SHOULD BE VOLUNTOURISM? WHY? 

@weekendscount I strongly believe that 70% should be service and 30% should be relaxation.

@twinlins Wouldn’t it be nice if airlines waived fees for bags with donations?

@rychepet It would be nice to have 2 vacations—1 for fun, and 1 just for voluntourism.

@furrykarma It depends on how many trips you take a year. I’d spend the whole thing volunteering if my last one was pure relaxation.

@travelermom A group of bloggers bought a meal for the volunteers when my boys were cleaning up the Jersey shore. Inspired me.

@kidsunplugged Love traveling to run a race for charity. Running the Disney Marathon in Jan for @NoahsLight foundation.

@Greenloonseco Depends upon the age and maturity of the child to understand the value of service, global responsibility. For some, 6 yrs.

@allierose It’s true. Many marathons will do “charity” numbers to raise funds. Supports local tourism and good causes!

*Note: Comments are sometimes edited for spelling (the vs teh due to fast Twitter fingers!) and for abbreviation that our non-Twitter bretheren may not understand (DH vs dear husband). They are not edited for content as we feel it is valuable for everyone’s original thoughts to be heard.