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Voluntourism Abroad – Ideas for You and Your Grandchild

By Cynthia Hogg April 15, 2024 Travel

I previously wrote about voluntourism here, touching on some of the necessary considerations. If voluntourism is something you’ve decided you’re passionate about, doing it with your grandchildren can be a way to not only enjoy skip-gen travel with them, but also pass along important values about “giving back.”

Many who work in this travel niche agree that the most successful short-term voluntourism centers around conservation, animals and wildlife, or sports coaching. Especially if you are traveling with teen or young adult grandchildren, there are many opportunities in these areas.

If you are traveling with grandchildren younger than 15 or 16, it may be more challenging to find opportunities because of liability concerns. On the other hand, with fewer options to choose from, it can be easier to find a good fit.

How to Go About Choosing the Best Option

First, decide on a budget and who will pay for what. Will the grandparent(s) underwrite the entire cost of the trip? Will the parent(s) or grandchild (teen or young adult in most cases) contribute? Having a budget beforehand will help you remain firm when tempted by an exotic-sounding trip you know is beyond your means. (I speak from experience here.)

Next, plan with your grandchild, as opposed to for them. Discuss mutual interests and abilities, then explore which opportunities on the recommended websites offer the best fit.

A final option is to include volunteering within a different trip, rather than making it the sole focus. In fact, the more I researched this topic, the more I became convinced it’s the preferred option for most skip-gen travel.

Skip-Gen Travel Voluntourism Opportunities

Out of the hundreds of opportunities out there, here are just a few internationally-focused ideas to get you started:

Available to Everyone – Pack for a Purpose

Small Space. Little Effort. Big Impact.

The idea behind this program, which has been around for more than a decade, is simple: designate a small space in your luggage to bring supplies needed by a charity at your destination – and then you’ll have room for souvenirs when you head home!

They invite you to choose by destination or initiative (health, education, child welfare, animal welfare, etc.) by pairing with one of the more than 480 hotel and travel agencies in 60 countries with whom they work. Typical items might include school and art supplies or medical supplies. (Solmar Hotels and Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, also has a “Bring a Thing” donation program, typically art and school supplies).

Hands-On International – Volunteer HQ is one of your best bets if traveling with a grandchild 16 or older, although younger children can be included if they are part of a “family” group. (Even a solo grandparent would qualify to volunteer with a younger grandchild – see website for other necessary requirements.) This is a highly-rated and vetted resource with many volunteer opportunities from A (Argentina) to Z (Zanzibar)!

There are many project options available, from animal and childcare to conservation, and their volunteer projects are well-structured and meaningful. They also include downtime for sightseeing. Prices are quite reasonable, as in the range of $275 – $705 per week, which includes accommodations, meals, and 24/7 in-country support. Travel to the volunteer site is not included, and there is also a registration fee.

This is a program designed primarily for older grandchildren who are able to provide meaningful work for at least 3 – 5 hours per day.

Exotic International – Discover Corps

Learn. Serve. Immerse.

Discover Corps is another highly-rated travel organization that can provide curated trips for grandparents and a grandchild or grandchildren. Here is one grandmother’s story. Like Volunteerhq, they offer a wide range of opportunities, although in general it is a pricier option with fewer volunteering hours and more emphasis on immersive experiences to increase cultural awareness. One plus is the ability to involve multiple and/or younger grandchildren.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for international volunteering with a grandchild in tow. In my next article, I will highlight some of the best domestic voluntourism opportunities closer to home.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever taken an international voluntourism trip with a grandchild? Where did you go and what did you do? If not, does this kind of travel with a grandchild appeal to you?

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dianna c

Volunteer in America

Cynthia Hogg

I have already submitted a blog post about volunteering closer to home; it hasn’t been published yet. In my 3-part series, I was trying to give people different options.

Vanya Drumchiyska

Hi Dianna and thank you for commenting.
The article on volunteering in America with a grandchild will be published tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Please be sure to first watch the docu THE LAST TOURIST. Great film that talks about how tourism shouldn’t be; that tourists need to do their homework before going to their destination. Talks about voluntourism where one orphanage takes volunteers and because it’s doing so well w/ voluntourism that kids are sent to the orphanage even if they’re not orphans so they can get the benefits of the orphanage. So do your homework before volunteering and if the charity is really benefiting the community. Highly recommend watching THE LAST TOURIST…a must-see for all travellers/tourists/voluntourists! Jane Goodall is also featured in the film.

The Author

Cynthia Hogg is a freelance writer in western Michigan who contributes regularly to Sixty and Me and Senior Perspectives magazine. She loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren, especially combining the two. She is the editor of the newly updated blog

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