Our family loves seeing the world and I firmly believe that travel is the key to building empathy and wisdom. In fact, the best gift I can give Laini is to expose her to as much of the world as possible. That’s why we love service holidays!

Our family goes somewhere new to explore the beauty of the place. Also, we do more than live the tourist life. We meet locals and invest in the community alongside them. So far, we have enjoyed adventures in Kunming, Vietnam, and Honduras.

Recently, because dad is working in Shanghai, Laini and I took a quick trip to Utila. She had just fractured her ankle, but doc approved the trip as long as we were careful with crutches and boot. This trip exceeded all our expectations! Because we had planned to volunteer at Jaspers Utila Animal Shelter (the story is featured in Chapter 4 of The Spare Room book). We enjoyed our reunion and meeting Alison’s new hubby. And the shelter continues to expand!

Then, we heard about the baby sea turtles.

291 babies had been hatched and protected, and were ready to make their way into the ocean! What an amazing thing, watching these tiny little guys make their way to water. We also learned about the special ones – the last batch of babies hadn’t managed to hatch on their own, and needed a little help. That’s why they were kept separate and released at the very end, with extra loving care.

We didn’t think it could get much better after the baby sea turtles!

And then, we met Ms. Terry.

This amazing woman is a force of nature! She collected a group of island kids, and together, we bought and delivered food to the elderly.

Investing in the community was really rewarding and watching the kids get to know each other was also great fun (despite the language barrier!) In fact, we ended up spending the rest of the day with those kids on a banana boat. What a wonderful day!

All this squeezed into a few days with a broken ankle. I’ll end with snaps of one evening as the girls sat quietly, watching the sun go down.

Oh, and a HUGE shoutout to Utila Chocolate Company! Lejourn is an amazing human and we LOVED getting to know him, while enjoying all sorts of coffee and chocolate. Dreamy.

For more on our GGAs, check out our trip to InterContinental Wonderland.

For more on thoughts about family experiences, check out this post on family rituals and this one about identifying your family’s social legacy.