Where are you and your grandkids going on vacation this year? To the beach? On a cruise? To a theme park?

What if we told you there was a new way to travel that would give your family an unparalleled opportunity to experience the world together? One that allowed you to give back, learn about a new culture and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned quality time?

Intrigued? If so, we’ve got two words for you: volunteer vacation.

Is a Volunteer Vacation Right for You?

This type of travel is becoming more and more popular with intergenerational groups because it offers a perfect blend of volunteering and vacationing; you spend part of your time giving back to the local community and part of your time relaxing and exploring your surroundings.

Wondering if this type of travel would be good for your family? Here are six reasons why a family volunteer vacation is better than Disney World:

You’ll Escape from Technology… Together

These days, half the time you spend with your family probably involves them staring at a screen while mumbling responses to your questions. Whether it’s young kids playing on an iPad, teenagers texting so fast it looks like their fingers are going to fall off, or harried adults constantly checking their work email – it’s not how you want to enjoy your family’s company.

So what’s the problem with going to Disney World? Your grandkids will still have access to these technologies. By taking them on a volunteer vacation abroad, not only will they not have time to check their phone – they won’t even have cell service!

You’ll Spend Time Exploring (Instead of Waiting in Line)

What do you spend the most time doing at Disney World? Waiting: in line for a ride, for a table at a busy restaurant or to take a photograph with Mickey.

Why waste all that time standing around when you could be actively exploring a new country?

On a volunteer vacation, you’ll spend your days helping others, meeting new people, visiting fascinating historical and cultural sites, walking or hiking through nature, and eating delicious local cuisine.

family volunteer vacations - discovercorps

You’ll Further Their (and Your) Education

You may believe that education is the best gift you can give to your family. Maybe that’s why you’ve happily shared your knowledge of gardening or knitting, or even helped them pay for college. Well, traveling abroad is one of the best forms of education there is.

By experiencing a new language, culture, and people, your family’s eyes will be opened to the huge world that surrounds them. Not only will they learn practical skills on a volunteer vacation, they’ll also learn about a different way of life — which will hopefully inspire them to be lifelong travelers and learners.

family volunteer vacations - discovercorps

You’ll Introduce them to Our Differences – and Our Similarities

Your family might not usually have the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds. On a volunteer vacation, however, you’ll connect with people from a whole other world. It’s important for people — especially your grandkids — to be exposed to people different from them, because knowledge and familiarity breed understanding.

But more important than recognizing our differences is acknowledging our shared humanity.

Children, in particular, share a universal language; their connecting with local kids through sports and games will have a lasting impact on them — not to mention you.

You’ll Highlight Why Giving Back is Important

As someone in their 50s or 60s, you’ve seen enough to know how important it is to give back. But have your adult children? And what about your grandkids? By sharing your love of volunteering with them, they’ll see how much it means to you — and, more importantly, to the people you’re helping.

Taking a volunteer vacation will inspire your family to view the world differently, and it will also open the doors to in-depth conversations about important topics like gratitude and service. An easy way to make the world a better place is by sharing your values with your family.

family volunteer vacations - discovercorps

You’ll Give Them Once-in-a-Lifetime Stories

On a volunteer vacation, every day is an adventure. While Disney World might be exciting to your grandkids now, what is going to have a greater impact on them? Twenty years from now, wouldn’t you rather they reminisce about the time they helped to build a school in the Dominican Republic than the time they rode on Splash Mountain?

family volunteer vacations - discovercorps

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with Disney World; it’s a fun place that brings joy to a lot of people. But why not think deeper? Why not travel deeper? A family volunteer vacation is the perfect way to challenge yourself and your family to learn, bond, and grow together.

Have you ever taken a volunteer vacation? What did you like most about the experience? Was there anything that you didn’t like? Please join the conversation below.

Susan Shain works with Discover Corps, the only volunteer vacation organization endorsed by the National Peace Corps Association. She believes that the best way to discover a country is through its people. Click here to learn more about Discover Corps’ all-inclusive volunteer vacations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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