Making a difference in the world is a beautiful but also an overwhelming idea. As human beings, we are inherently good, and we want to bring happiness to others rather than simply ourselves. Since the first step is always the hardest, humanitarian service vacation organizations help people find their pace, and to make the most out of the opportunity to adventure and serve others.
Humanitarian vacations are meant to give people from all over the world the opportunity to get to know other countries and to give a piece of themselves to the people. The destinations are mostly developing countries, so those who make the trip can question what seems real and ordinary for themselves and have a taste of what reality is for somebody else.
Some might wonder what good a group of volunteers can do in such a short time. However, the good people can do in one single day is measured in the joy it brings to both the givers and the receivers. Leaving a family with a new wood burning stove, water filter, garden box, etc can change their life in a few hours. Let’s just imagine all the good that can be accomplished in 11 days.
Many parents decide to take their kids on service vacations when they are in their early teen years since it is such a pivotal time for the youth. According to Piaget’s four stages of Cognitive Development, when children turn twelve years old they develop their formal operational skills; teens start to understand the world in an abstract way and tend to be aware of the needs of others. This is a beautiful time in their lives to come to grips with the real world, not just the community they live in. Many kids will choose to keep on serving for the rest of their lives because they are being exposed to acts of kindness right when they become aware of how others feel and live. Humanitarian service vacations serve as the conduit for that cognitive development to be expanded, since many individuals do not reside in areas where they can recognize the different realities people are a part of.
Some humanitarian service vacations add to the trip a myriad of adventures to the service they will provide to the community. For example, Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours organizes exciting adventure travel for their volunteers. Guatemalan tourism has so much to offer for those who dive into the adventure tours this beautiful country is blessed with. The volunteers who travel with Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours have hiked Mayan ruins, have visited the astonishing Lake Atitlan and the villages that surround it, have kicked back in the historic Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala), and have felt the breeze of the Pacific Ocean that bathes the black sand beaches of this larger-than-life country. Volunteers have also built garden boxes, installed wood burning stoves, played soccer with kiddos at an orphanage, delivered thousands of books to local school and donated thousands of backpacks full of school supplies.
Guatemala is a small paradise that has suffered through history, and that is why Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours has found time and time again a way to bless the people through service vacations. They have had the opportunity to focus their energies in San Andres where they have uplifted this small community by instructing the children in Diego’s Corner, sponsoring kids with backpacks and meals, provided Christmas gifts, meals, mentored parents with parent education classes covering topics that sometimes get overlooked, etc.
Getting to know the beauty that surrounds the world somewhere other than your back porch and seeing how much people care about other people is cathartic. Peace can be found in the service of others, and too much service is never enough in a country like this.
Service vacations bring balance between losing and finding yourself. If you are thinking of going on a humanitarian trip, your job is to both relax when it is time to relax, and to work when the opportunity comes. The best humanitarian service vacation will help you to fill the in-betweens of this experience.
Make sure the online and social media presence of the agency you are thinking of traveling with is transparent and active. It is always a good idea to check for references and comments online on how the experience was for previous explorers and volunteers.
A good humanitarian service vacation will clearly state their mission and how activities will be scheduled. A service-focused vacation is the living proof of how traveling has evolved through the decades. Making a difference does not have to be limited to local communities and changing the world for someone only takes a few dedicated volunteers. People are looking for meaningful ways to give back for how much they have received in their lives, and these organizations are merely the catalyst for kindness and charity to be spread around the world.