Sure, it feels good to be able to take the kids on a luxury vacation. After all, you work hard and you’ve earned it. But for many of us, being able to participate in a service project while still enjoying that swanky retreat can make our family bonding experience so much more meaningful. Hands Up Holidays is one company making a name for itself by blending high-end luxury and service at locations around the world.
Accommodations are typically in eco-luxury boutique hotels in exotic locations that are, at the same time, carefully curated to be safe for you and your children. But instead of hanging out by the pool or throwing Frisbees on the beach, trips usually build in three to five days of service projects that allow your family to bond over shared experiences, but also help animals and local residents — all while leaving a portion of your vacation to just play and see the sights.
Trips are customized according to the interests and ages of the children, but generally the Hands Up Holidays staff recommends wildlife conservation projects for those children who love animals and are aged 12 and younger. For example, in Thailand or India you could help prepare meals and feed elephants, or even help bathe them, or in Australia you can help protect kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.
Teens and older kids might consider helping build a house for a needy family in such destinations as India or Thailand.
Some other examples of activities children can participate in include hand feeding native sea birds and checking kiwi habitats in a New Zealand wildlife conservation initiative; leading art classes at a makeshift school in Vietnam and engaging with local children; working to construct a library in Morocco and a school in Malawi; and teaching youngsters in the Maasai community in Kenya.
Adults can also help in a number of ways, according to interests and skills, by offering advice on business, fundraising or marketing to local charities or lending assistance at medical facilities.
Trips typically begin by learning about the destination, picking up a few words in the local language and gathering tips on cultural practices and etiquette, all designed to help you make the most of your immersive experience. Service days are usually timed for the middle of the week, while the last few days are reserved for exploration or well-earned R&R.
A sample itinerary in Costa Rica includes accommodations at Tabacon Resort & Spa in Arenal; a day of zip-lining, kayaking, volcano hiking and night jungle walking; volunteering at a wildlife center preparing the meals for monkeys, sloths and parrots and assisting the vet on his or her rounds; and air transfers to Manuel Antonio for an overnight at Arenas del Mar, followed by two days of a private walking safari of Manuel Antonio National Park, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling.
With cooler weather and fall colors on its way, it’s time to plan your fall family travels. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort PA Wilds in Mansfield is the perfect destination, and with both scary and not-so-scary events, kids and parents alike can celebrate the festive season with trick-or-treating, fall crafts, fun with the Yogi Bear characters and more.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Oktoberfest is not all about beer. Although beer does play a major role, many of these German-themed fall festivals include activities fun for the whole family. You don’t need to travel to Munich to enjoy the oom-pah bands, lively dances, colorful Bavarian dress and traditional German foods; you can find them in almost all regions of the United States this October. Here are some good choices for families:
Rome is a city full of musts for visitors. You must visit the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps. And the list goes on, all the way down to trying gelato. No trip to Rome would be complete without the obligatory sweet treat, and for good reason. Gelato is delicious, refreshing and it comes in every flavor you can imagine. But while you can find it just about everywhere you turn in the Eternal City, it’s important to know not all gelatos are created equal. The city is brimming with fakes, and once you know how to tell the difference, not only will you see the fake stuff everywhere, but you will also refuse to settle for less than authentic.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Looking for a unique, fun and educational activity for the kids during your next family travels? Well, Kidzania has you covered. Located in Dallas, Texas, this city is not only built for kids but also run by kids. It’s unlike any other entertainment parks; in Kidzania, kids learn useful knowledge, skills and experiences, all while having the chance to be independent.