As we continue our A-Z #WellTraveledfamily Summer Challenge, we encourage you to think about ways you can give back this summer. Whether it is volunteer opportunities in your own community, or a trip that incorporates serving a local community in which you visit, there are endless organizations from which to choose. On a recent trip the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, I was inspired to start exploring what causes our family cares about most and ways we can serve others in our travels.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center has created a list of “5 Tips for Summer Volunteering” that may inspire your #WellTraveledFamily to do the same!

1. Find Your Inspiration: The best volunteer experiences are ones that you’re passionate about. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center is a great place to learn about different causes and find out which ones resonate with you.
2. Get Connected: There are so many great organizations in the Puget Sound, but it can be hard to know how to choose. Start by visiting sites like Volunteermatch.org, SeattleWorks.org or Idealist.org to search for opportunities by location and issue area. You can also stop by your local community center, school guidance counselor or church to find out where your peers are volunteering.
3. Volunteer as a group: Nervous to do it alone? Get your friends or family together and create lasting memories that truly make a difference. It’s also a great way to teach kids and teens the importance of giving back.
4. Donate Your Skills: Chances are you have a special skill or talent, so use it to guide your volunteer efforts. If you play baseball, coach a youth league. If you love books, volunteer with a public library. If you work in communications, help a nonprofit with its social media. Someone is out there looking for your brilliance!
5. Don’t over-commit: Make sure you choose something that fits with your schedule but still benefits the organization. It’s always better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to an opportunity you can’t fulfill.

And the Gates Foundation reminds us: you don’t have to go through a formal program to make a difference. Think about small ways you can give back, like helping a senior neighbor do yard work, mentoring a community member or collecting old clothing for a local shelter.

What are ways you make giving back a priority in your travels? Do you have tips to help families wanting to take a volunteer vacation? Share with us on the Facebook or tweet your tips using the hashtag #welltraveledfamily.

Ready to start the A-Z #WellTraveledFamily Summer Challenge?

What is the A-Z #WellTraveledFamily Summer Challenge and how do you play? There are roughly 13 weeks to summer, so each week, we’ll be back sharing inspiration with you to get out and travel with your family, sharing great destinations, trying new things, and finding a bit of magic along the way–each corresponding to one of the letters of the week.

Here’s how to join in on the fun using social media and blogs for inspiration this summer:

1. Develop your own A-Z #WellTraveledFamily Summer Travel Plan: You don’t have to travel far this summer to play – the A-Z #WellTraveledFamily challenge is all about getting creative this summer and exploring and reconnecting as a family. Sit down with your family and plan out your own A-Z Summer Travel Challenge. Where do you want to go? Get the kids involved and make this fun. Consider food, activities and destinations by letter of the alphabet.

2. Share your A-Z ideas and trip photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: Have an idea for an A-Z travel experience or destination or need ideas? Share your own A-Z Summer Travel ideas and trips on Facebook and with @HipTravelMama on Twitter, Instagram your photos using the #welltraveledfamily hashtag. We’ll have some great prizes throughout the summer, so make sure you “like” us and “follow us” to play! Make sure you send them a link to this blog post so your friends know how to play too!

Most of all – HAVE FUN WITH THIS and get out and explore with your family this summer.

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