What do we want our kids to appreciate in life? Is it the value of a dollar? The importance of community? So many good choices, but two things stand out to me—to recognize their blessings and to always give back to others. It’s easy to tell them to be good people, that we want them to put their faith into action, yet more important is how can we regularly practice this with them. My husband and I love traveling with our daughters to discover new places and yet, we usually plan a trip where the agenda will entertain and satisfy our own needs.
Instead, what if we made it a priority to include philanthropy in each trip that we take? This feels like something we could get behind. I started researching family volunteering and travel and found a plethora of websites offering travel destinations with a purpose. It all sounds very exciting, yet overwhelming! Now what? Perhaps the search needs to be more specific?
“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” —Bob Goff
Then I came across this article, The Reality Of Voluntourism And The Conversations We’re Not Having, by Natalie Jesionka, which gave me a starting point. Her message is educational and thought-provoking. It reminds us to carefully investigate what we want to do and ask ourselves, how are we able to truly serve others in a way that helps them most effectively, instead of just scratching an itch for our own altruism? What if we could creatively combine our efforts with others taking action to build a better world for everyone?
A few names come to mind when I think of charitable nonprofits that offer travel options. We tremendously respect the way Love Does works to fight for human rights and providing education to children in conflict zones around the world. Bob Goff is the founder and his message “Only action becomes love.” is inspiring and his organization, Love Does, is making a tangible difference in the world.
Jesus Film Project is another group that I’m excited about. They spread the gospel to people worldwide by showing the Jesus Film in the heart languages of many nations.
How do you connect with one of these organizations? Start at their website and then narrow it down by country, by the type of activity, or the duration of the stay. The budget also plays a part in the equation. Regardless of the circumstances, there is something for everyone and it’s just a matter of doing some research and replacing our original idea of what travel is about with a new definition, one that is even bigger and better on an eternal scale.
What excites us the most is that we can do something to contribute to other people’s well-being while we’re nurturing ourselves, and amazingly, the giving will bring its own rewards. If our girls grow up doing this, it will become engraved in their hearts and they will become more compassionate people, not just well-traveled. This means the world to my husband and me!
Have you done a volunteer vacation? I’d love to hear about your experiences and get recommendations so we can start planning our next adventure.