We are asked all the time: how old do my children have to be for them to come with me on a Globe Aware volunteer vacation?While we have yet to see a volunteer bring along their newborn, we have had 2 year olds on our programs, and every aged child above that too! But travel abroad with young children? Are you NUTS? All the crying, nagging, and the money!! They won’t even remember it. Why on EARTH would I do that to myself? What will they eat over there? Fried monkey eyeballs? No thanks! I get these responses all the time. We have volunteers who have been traveling with my children since they were infants all over the world - - all over Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia, China, Africa.
Volunteer Travel with Children
Here are our thoughts: First: young children are often more portable than older children. They still think you know something and they actually want to be with you. Second, until age 2, they can ride in your lap for usually 10% of the cost of a normal ticket. Third: with all the ipads/iphones electronic gadgets, keeping them happy with videos, games and more is much easier today on a plane than it was even 10 years ago. Fourth: You’re right, they may not remember all of it, but YOU will. Are *your* memories worth anything? Life is short, you never know what could happen. Take the chance while you can. Additionally you’d be surprised what they *do* absorb. Young globetrotters don’t take for granted what language, music, dress or food is the norm. They pick up on languages much faster than you do. Their palate is developing at this stage and their capacity for learning, of course, is fertile.
Fifth: Interestingly they have fresh fruit, veggies, rice, and chicken, freshly prepared and usually not processed all over the world. Sixth: Traveling with a child is the greatest ice breaker there ever was. With the exception of a few Western Countries, most countries view children as a loveable, nonpolitical human with whom to interact, rather than as an irritant. Many more people will stop to talk with you simply because you have a child with you. Not too different in some ways than walking a puppy in the park. Safety: some are worried that to travel with a young human is to dangle bait in front of human traffickers. But it’s all about common sense and where you go. This topic deserves a whole chapter, but the sum of it is, staying safe abroad is usually not much more complicated than staying at home, it just takes knowing the danger zones. Globe Aware does not operate in war torn countries or countries where there is a major disease break out. IN fact most of our locations have much lower incidences of violent crime than most major cities in North America. Seventh: because you will love it. Seeing your kids react to roaring lions on safari, or learning the joys of giving while building an adobe stove in Peru, or seeing food delivered by mini trains at Japanese restaurants in Tokyo is quadruple the fun. Your young children will be *much* less worried about the language barrier than you will, and our bilingual coordinator is with you throughout.
On each location we have something your kids can do. Of course how much they can do will vary depending on the child. We have had toddlers helping paint walls, pat adobe into place, and play games with local school kids their own age. Think of it less as wowrk, and more about meaningful engagement. It really comes down to whether or not our programs are a good fit. For example, if your child has asthma, its important to know that our Cusco program location is at such a high altitude that this could make breathing more difficult than normal.