Family Volunteering Abroad – A guide

Volunteer holidays offer more for families than resorts or staycations. Providing families with a unique bonding experience, children and parents working side by side. Stepping away from the screens and distractions of everyday life.

Independent versus Direct

There are many ways families can organise their volunteering abroad either through an organisation or going direct to a charity overseas. Some organisations may not advertise that they accept families but may have options available within their regular programmes and may offer family discounts.

When choosing an organisation take into consideration where their offices are located. Time differences can cause delays in responses to emails and phone calls. This isn’t ideal when you need information quickly.

Some families prefer to contact a charity directly and volunteer independently through them. This form of volunteering usually requires a lot more research and the charity may not be experienced in hosting volunteers.

Type Of Project

After you have decided on an organisation you can begin looking at different types of projects. You don’t want to choose a project where there is a lot of walking involved. Little legs get tired very quickly, you don’t want your children to get worn out before they even arrive at the volunteer project.

Check if you can volunteer side by side with your little ones or if you need to take it in turns to volunteer, leaving the children with a partner. If you are volunteering alongside your children, they may surprise you with their confidence, being able to stand in front of the class teaching a group of children themselves or sitting around a table with a small group. Great for their self-development!


It is a good idea to choose a project which is located in a city where you can easily pop in and out. It’s nice to have some family time away from the volunteer group and staff which can be easier in a city. It is not ideal to be in a volunteer house miles away from anywhere. Some projects require travelling for ages before getting to a large town as the nearest town only has two shops and nothing to do.


There is no such thing as ‘volunteering insurance’, despite claims, any travel insurance will do. Many families already have a family travel insurance policy. But be sure that all of your children are included on the policy.


Young children easily get upset tummies and higher temperatures, it can be harder to cool them down. A good first aid or travel health kit is essential, many travellers with young children also pack flavoured rehydrate sachets which can be difficult to find abroad.


Often volunteer houses are basic and often have mixed dormitory style rooms, ask if you can pay a bit more and upgrade to a private room.

Also, be sure to check where the bedrooms are in respect to the communal areas. A lot of volunteers enjoy staying up late and socialising. This could be loud and distract your children preventing them from getting some well needed shut-eye. It may be best to find a project where the volunteer bedrooms aren’t adjoining the lounge where volunteers are likely to be staying up chatting.


Children have shorter attention spans than adults and it is likely that parents will need to take activities with them which last the entire time you’re abroad, especially for younger children who can’t entertain themselves with a gadget.

Another benefit with staying within a city is that you have more than just the volunteer group for company and entertainment. You can pop out and meet local families.

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