I have been wanting to write this post for some time. I just haven't had the time to fit it in. I was thinking this morning, my trips to developing countries or trips in which I had the sole purpose of going to a location to serve my fellow man/communities in need, have been some of the ABSOLUTE best of my life.
I would highly recommend this sort of travel #1 for couples and #2 for families. Why? Because you can BOND and experience a sense of adventure like none other on these sorts of trips. You know those episodes of The Bachelor where the couple goes on some crazy adventure like Bungee jumping off a bridge in Africa? Then afterwards, they feel like they have conquered the world and know each other in a whole new way? That is a silly example but it is actually really true. Experiencing a totally foreign culture or country as a couple or family will take you into a new place of bonding.
For families, what better way to teach your kids than by experience? Modeling a heart of gratitude and service for others is the way to show children how to have hearts of charity. While this begins in the home and can be as simple as volunteering at a local soup kitchen, I think it is valuable to show kids how other cultures live. A heart of gratitude will emerge! Also, on a more practical note, many of these trips are very affordable and almost always include some sightseeing at the end. You can see the world as a family (while helping your fellow man) for a really great price--all while coming home MORE blessed and mindful. What's not to love?
The times Chuck and I have been on these trips together have taken our relationship to the next level or the time our ENTIRE family (as in like 40 people haha) went to El Salvador to partner with one of our favorite non-profits Living Water International (an amazing organization that provides clean drinking water to thirsty communities in the most dignified manner)...I cannot express the amazing bonding and memories that were made on that trip.
Another great thing about these destinations is the adventure, the exotic foods and scenery, and most importantly, the PEOPLE. While many of these cultures don't have all the material goods we have, they have the most loving, hospitable people. They also have rich cultures full of stories, color, dance, music, and food...not to mention breath taking geography and places to see.
There are many ways to go on a trip like this. You can research countless non profits, you can go through a travel agency, you can work with your local place of worship. There are so many opportunities. All I would say is find what works best for you and GO! Get our of your comfort zone and have that break from Wifi and Western convenience. You WILL come back changed most likely for the better. Open your eyes to new places and people. When COVID is over (and it will be eventually), I cannot WAIT to get out there again and explore the world. TOPS on my list is AFRICA! My bucket list keeps expanding.
So what destinations have I been to on a humanitarian based trip? Where would I recommend?
Belize (Central America)-went when I turned 18 to do community outreach and summer camp for kids and teens; insanely beautiful beaches and places to snorkel
Greece (while this isn't a "developing" country it is still VERY different from the USA. It is a blend of East and West...the most amazing ancient history meeting the most beautiful coasts I have ever seen. The islands are incredible. I went there twice in college to do summer camps for kids and teens.
Thailand-THE MOST beautiful place. Food scene like none other. I went there to work with an anti-trafficking non profit. I also really enjoyed Bangkok and its European feel.
Honduras-have been twice with Living Water. I love the beaches and the food. I love the people and the relaxed state of mind.
El Salvador-I have been once with Living Water. I would highly recommend seeing the countryside-volcanoes, mountains, BEAUTY.
What special things should you remember or pack before planning a trip like this? (I have linked all suggested products! You can purchase with a click!)
First of all, you will need to check with your local doctor or health department about what vaccines or medications are suggested for where you are traveling.
You will also want to make sure travel documents and passport are up to date. Make sure to check with US embassy about travel safety and entry requirements (i.e. some countries require a $10 entry fee)
travel guide or language book (I like Rick Steves or anything from The Lonely Planet series)
travel size tissues (many developing countries do not have readily available toilet paper like we do)
Headbands (great for wicking sweat and keeping hair out of your face)
clothing that is appropriate for culture you are visiting and for weather (read up on what this might be depending on where you are visiting); You may want to keep legs covered with pants like these if you are doing manual labor or walking in a jungle etc. They are also great for humid and hot weather.
This would be enough to get you started! As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me via message or email with any questions. Happy adventuring!