We randomly got a Discover Corps catalog in the mail. I flipped through the pages, and the Costa Rica: Family Volunteer Trip jumped out at me! There are so many options of trips in the states but we wanted to give our kids an inside view of another country. My sister and husband had gone to Costa Rica a couple of years ago, and they raved about it. That definitely reinforced our decision to travel there.
Alice, a homemaker, and her partner Barb have four kids with two heading to college. They live in Pennsylvania and wanted to travel a bit out of their comfort zone with all four kids!
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Discover Corps DID all the hard work; we basically just paid! It could not have been easier or better organized from beginning to end. Except for packing, in which they provided a packing list, there wasn't a whole lot we had to do as a family to prepare. Since we have four teens who are inevitably hungry all the time, we brought snacks, water bottles, etc. This definitely helped in between meals, although we did make stops between destinations.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I honestly have no complaints. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the travel time between places. We went to three different areas of Costa Rica, and the travel time was between 3 and 4 hours, which was not bad because we were able to see the landscape, towns, etc. I would have just been better prepared as far as snacks, reading material, and things for the kids to do.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Each day brought a new adventure. It was a low intensity week, but every day was planned and had at least one activity such as a nature hike, zip lining, coffee tour, school tour, local home, and night nature hike. I LOVED seeing so many aspects of what a beautiful country Costa Rica is.
It made it 100% easier that every meal was included. The restaurants we went to were amazing; we never had a bad meal, and we got to experience Costa Rica meals. We did have down time which was nice so we could explore town, go swimming, or go to the beach.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
It is hard to really say as we have traveled abroad quite a bit. This was our first time though in a Central American country that isn't an all-inclusive. We NEVER felt uncomfortable or unsafe. We had the most amazing guide and driver. Having had one, I don't know that we would ever travel there without a guide. That being said, Costa Rica is a beautiful country. ALL the people and families we encountered were gracious and hospitable.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
There is nothing I would do differently. We wanted to do a "family" vacation that we could all experience and enjoy together, especially with four teens! They had the time of their lives, as did we!
Teens can be so technology-focused that we wanted the trip to be more hands-on for them, and it did not disappoint. I believe they would say the same. They have all said it was a trip of a lifetime, and that makes me so happy. They learned so much from making chocolate to caring for rescued animals and not feeding wild ones. They will each take a part of this trip and keep it with them always.