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Costa Rica Volunteerism for Families - Part 2

Volunteer travel for newbies

If you've ever considered trading your fast-pass at Disney in for a week of building a school or working at wildlife refuge, now's the time to make that dream a reality. Got kids? Bring them along and see if they can teach you a thing or two about tolerance.

Costa Rica VolunteerismCosta Rica VolunteerismAccording to Scott Pralinsky, founder of Tropical Adventures, kids are a lot more agile than adults and get more out of a volunteer vacation than you may think - maybe even more than you will.

If you missed Scott's introduction to volunteer travel yesterday, you can read about it now: Costa Rica Volunteer Vacations for Families. And part 3 is also available now: Health Related Issues for Families.

GG: If I'm not a very savvy travel (read: not much travel experience outside the US) do you advise volunteer travel?

SC: Because of my own experience, my desire to help and naiveté, a few years ago I would have said yes emphatically. But I think each individual has to take into account for themselves what their own level of adventure really is. For that reason we have what I like to call "mild, medium and spicy" experiences.

I now suggest people who do not have much experience in traveling outside of their own area to start with something on the mild end. Culture shock is real. It not only affects the traveler, but also the family they are staying with, the community they are volunteering in and the organization they are working with.

So for instance, I might discourage a first-time traveler from signing up for a 2-week volunteer trip to work deep in the Talamanca Indigenous Reservation, and perhaps suggest teaching English in a small town closer to San Jose where they would be living with a more "modern" family in a type of house that would be more similar to the kind they are used to.

All that being said, I would certainly encourage volunteer travel, as it is an amazing way to learn more about one's self and the world around them. I know for me it changed my life and made me the person I am today.

GG: Why take a volunteer vacation with kids?

SC: Costa Rica is a big playground for kids. Between the waterfalls, animals, other children, beaches, butterflies, etc....it's a living classroom.

They really get another perspective of how other people live and it opens up their minds in a way that they can't get out of a classroom or a book. It also helps prepare them to be more empathic adults and citizens.

But as far as any other issues go, I really can't think of any. Children under the age of 12 in Costa Rica often get to stay in hotels free, travel in private shuttles for half-price, eat inexpensively, etc. So plan to stay a few extra days and we will help you plan a great excursion! 

GG: So, you can stay for a few extra days and tour the area you were volunteering in?

SC: We are now offering "voluntours"...a way to just volunteer for a few days  - or any customized number of days during your vacation instead of feeling like you have to build your entire vacation around volunteering. We are finding this option very popular. A great alternative to just sitting on the beach is considering a voluntour option. Combine any number of days of volunteering with touring around the country, and you'll have a great chance to see the country, experience the culture and help out others at the same time.

Check back tomorrow when Scott will talk the health-related issues of volunteer travel.

Want to know more about volunteer travel with Scott's company? Visit Tropical Adventures online and see if Costa Rica's a good fit for your family.

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Trips blending eco-sightseeing with volunteering are our specialty at Hands Up Holidays; be they tailor-made adventures, or one of our fixed date departures. I set up Hands Up Holidays with the passion to create amazing vacations where people got to learn about other cultures, explore a destination, and interact meaningfully with the locals, through the medium of carefully consulted volunteer projects. Families do indeed get a lot out of our trips, as do couples, single travellers, and seniors. Yours in Adventures That Count Chris

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