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Voluntourism: 3 ways to serve on vacation

At Thirty-One Gifts, we believe that service is a family value. One of our favorite things is hearing about how our amazing Consultants and Customers give back to their communities every day, whether by coaching their local Girls on the Run council, distributing tote bags to Ronald McDonald House families or assembling Hope Kits for women fleeing abuse, poverty and domestic violence.

We’ve even heard from some of our Consultants who are making service an integral part of their family time by incorporating it into their family vacations. After all, spending time giving as a family feels great – no matter where you are!

Here are a few ways you can incorporate service into your family vacations.

Enlist the services of a “voluntourism” agency

If you’re thinking of designing an entire vacation around volunteering and service, you may want to enlist the help of a full-service voluntourism agency.

These agencies have partnerships or working relationships with nonprofits around the world, which will make planning – especially if you’re planning to volunteer abroad – much, much easier.

The agency will work with you to make sure you have all the required and recommended immunizations, arrange accommodations and ensure that any volunteer opportunities you’re contemplating are age-appropriate for your kids.

Talk as a family about how you’d like to give back, and search for organizations based at your destination

Another way to plan a successful service vacation is to begin by thinking of how you’d like to give back.

Would your family like to plant a tree? Help with a beach clean-up? Read stories to children? Once you’ve determined what appeals the most to you as a family, it’s time to start looking for organizations that match those interests. Once you’ve found the right group, make sure you call and make arrangements for your family to work with them, whether it’s for a day or a week.

Make a donation of products instead of time

If your children are very young or if you can’t find a suitable volunteer opportunity where you’re going, you can always make a donation of products instead. Reserving just a little space in your luggage can make a big difference!

The website Pack for a Purpose has an ongoing list of community groups around the world that need supplies. To get involved, simply look up your destination (or cause, if you prefer) on the website, and you’ll be able to see a list of organizations and what they need.

By reserving a small part of your luggage for packing school supplies, first aid supplies, toys and more, you’ll be able to make an impact during your travels, even if you’re not able to give your time.

Of course, serving others in your hometown is also a huge part of making service a family value and making our communities happier, healthier places every day. We’d love to see how your family volunteers together! Show us by posting your photos on social media, and don’t forget to tag them with #thirtyone!