Global Citizens Network

Family Volunteer Travel: Benefits and Considerations

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GCN wasn't just a volunteer trip but instead a life altering two weeks that helped me discover myself.

- Shannon, Age 15

Should Your Family Volunteer Abroad?

Volunteer travel can benefit your family immeasurably, but it isn't right for everyone. Listed below are some things you should consider as you decide whether or not to embark on this potentially life-changing journey.

Potential Benefits of Family Volunteer Travel

Although volunteer travel requires flexibility, the rewards of immersing your family in a new culture can be enormous. This list of benefits came from families who have participated in GCN trips:

  • Creates a hands-on way to teach the values of compassion, tolerance, flexibility, cross-cultural understanding and global responsibility to children and teens.
  • Provides an antidote to the U.S. American culture’s messages of competition, self-absorption and materialism.
  • Allows young people to see that there is a world outside their own, and provides a unique opportunity to become acquainted with a new culture and its people.
  • Empowers children to believe they can make a difference through inter-cultural friendships and cooperative community work.
  • Gives children new (and sometimes life-changing) insights and increases their self-esteem.
  • Expands children’s understanding of community and social issues and teaches new lessons and life skills.
  • Gives families meaningful time together to express common values.
  • Bonds families together through the shared challenges and changed dynamics that result from being part of a new culture.
  • Produces shared memories that last a lifetime.

Questions to Consider

Many aspects of your trip will be prearranged, but traveling with GCN is still very different from a packaged tour. Your family will be authentically immersed in the host community. This requires a willingness to adapt to unfamiliar and sometimes challenging conditions. Here are some questions to think about as your family considers whether a GCN trip is right for you.

  • Does your family like adventure?
  • Do you enjoy multicultural experiences/interactions?
  • How does your family deal with unpredictability and risk?
  • When you’re challenged as a family, does it bring you together?
  • How do you handle things as a group if events do not go according to plan?
  • Are you willing to share yourselves with others?
  • Can your family perform as part of a team?

If you would like to further explore the possibility of volunteering abroad with your family, learn more about planning a trip.