ByMolly Smith

May 14, 2015

Family vacation season is upon us! Instead of planning your summer getaway to an amusement or theme park this year, why not think outside the box and plan a trip with a twist — helping the environment. This type of trip doesn’t have to draw dramatic “Aw Mom!” disappointed sighs from your kids. In fact, there are some amazing vacation spots that incorporate volunteer and educational opportunities to help your whole family get a little closer in touch with nature and to make a difference — all while having a really great time!

Spider monkey - Belize Zoo
Spider monkey at Belize Zoo. Image courtesy of Drriss & Marrionn.


In addition to discovering amazing sea life, underground caves and rich Mayan history, Belize is home to the Belize Zoo, where your animal-loving family can participate in education and conservation efforts of the area’s native wildlife and local environment. A very environmentally conscious zoo, the Belize Zoo composts, recycles and captures rainwater harvest. It even has eco-friendly activities for the entire family!

Costa Rica

This beautiful part of the world is home to exotic wildlife, breathtaking beaches and cloud forests. One of the most interesting volunteer programs available here is The Playa Matapalo Sea Turtle project, which is dedicated to protecting female sea turtles, their nests and hatchlings which are laid on Matapalo Beach. Aside from volunteer programs, Costa Rica is rife with adventure such as ziplining and white water rafting along with more mellow activities such as exploring a butterfly garden.

Jonkershoek - South Africa. Image courtesy of Jono Hey.
Jonkershoek – South Africa. Image courtesy of Jono Hey.

South Africa

Imagine taking your older teenage children on an adventure to help monkeys in a rehabilitation center in South Africa! This is a once in a lifetime experience for adults and teens alike; one that can bond a family and even set a lifelong passion for wildlife preservation into motion. South Africa is home to many environmental programs the whole family can enjoy.

Though traveling the globe to participate in programs designed to help our environment and the creatures that live in it, eco-friendly jet setting isn’t in every family’s summer vacation budget. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a green vacation! Camping for example is a fun way to get kids reconnected with nature without having to travel very far or use unnecessary resources. Camping is also great way to show your family how to get by without all the creature comforts of home or a fancy hotel. Check out some cool green camping gear before you go!

If you do choose the hotel route, your family can still be environmentally friendly by selecting a hotel that has earned accolades for its sustainable efforts. Many resorts, hotels and even motels now consider the environment when it comes to how they conduct their facilities — not only from a green standpoint but also from an economically sound one. When you map out your vacation, consider the impact your travel will have on the environment and how you can lessen that impact or even help to improve it.

Happy travels!

Feature image courtesy of Jono Hey 

By Molly Smith

Molly Cerreta Smith has been writing as a passion for as long as she could hold a pen and professionally for more than 15 years. Molly has hundreds of local and nationally published articles under her belt on topics including health and fitness, pregnancy and motherhood, food and dining, businesspeople, pets, travel, green living and love. When she’s not putting pen to paper, she loves reading, baking, sweating it out on a hiking trail or in a Zumba class, and engaging in “game nights” with her husband and their two kids.