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Costa Rica Volunteer Vacations for Families - Part 1

Is it possible to plan a family vacation around giving back?

Planning to travel with the kids this summer? Like that's even a question. Forget the rollercoasters, cotton candy and kid-friendly hotels. Instead, give them a chance to see how easy - and fun - it is to combine family travel with doing something good for our tired planet.

Volunteer Vacations in Costa RicaVolunteer Vacations in Costa RicaThink volunteer travel is too complicated to coordinate for you and your family. Think again. We've written a few articles on Volunteerism, but never how to do it with kids. It's surprisingly simple.

Former chaplain to the US Air Force, Scott Pralinsky founded Tropical Adventures in 2006, a cultural enrichment program that coordinates volunteer travel in Costa Rica. He's on vacation right now, but he graciously offered to answer some of our questions.

GoGirlfriend: Do whole families travel with you? Kids, grandparents?

Scott Pralinsky: Yes. Family travel - especially this Voluncations in Costa RicaVoluncations in Costa Ricayear - has become increasingly more popular. It's an incredible way to vacation together and to spend quality time together. We have aunts coming with nephews, grandmothers traveling with grandchildren and whole families traveling together.

GG: What's the youngest age children you allow on your trips? Why?

SC: Children traveling alone are restricted to 18 years of age or 16 and 17 with parent permission. We allow children of all ages to travel with a guardian. We also encourage it.

Costa Rica is a very family-oriented country. There is no better way to get to know the country, culture, language and people than to come and live with another family for a while.

Almost all of our host families have small children themselves. So this cultural enrichment and exchange is not only good for the adults, but it is also great for the children. Some parents have been worried in the past that it would be hard for their children to adapt, but we've found the opposite. Their children have adapted much faster and easier than they have.

GG: Do young(er) children get enough out of volunteer travel to make it a worthwhile family trip?

SC: Absolutely! I recently asked a mother from California if she thought her young children got much out of their experience. She told me they commented to her upon returning home how nice it was to see how much in common they had with people from other parts of the world instead of focusing on their differences. They are now spending more time volunteering in their own community.

Read Part 2: Costa Rica Volunteerism for Families. And Part 3 is also online now: Health Related Issues for Volunteer Travelers

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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I'm still not convinced I'd take my kids. It sounds like a lot of work and there's the safety. but i'll wait and see what the rest of the story says.

I like the kind of stories I'm seeing here lately. I've been considering a volunteer vacation with my teens - 16 & 17 year old girls - and Costa Rica sounds like the perfect spot. We get the tropical vacation I want and we get to do something good for others at the same time.

I agree that Costa Rica is a very family oriented country with many great things to offer.

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