Baby Boomer: Traveling With a Mission

First in a series on traveling with a mission in Costa Rica by Doris Gallan.

For many Baby Boomers, a vacation to get away from it all isn’t enough. They need more than beach, pool, parties and raves to find satisfaction in their trips away from jobs and homes. A few days of R&R is often enough to recharge our batteries and then our minds start getting bored and our bodies fidget for something to do. What a better thing to do but to travel with your family and have great vacations at the same time you have the chance to grow by doing some volunteer work in this small Central American country, called Costa Rica?

Is getting away from it all enough for you? If not, consider combining a rest with traveling with a mission to get more out of your trip. Many people travel to gain a better understanding of the world by researching a destination, planning the time away and preparing for a trip. Once there, they are more aware of the differences and similarities and what makes the people and the country tick. Baby Boomers bring decades of knowledge and experience which often makes them more sensitive to nuances in languages and cultures.

Learning new skills – whether it is to dance, cook food, study a new language, or take up a craft – is intellectually challenging and sometimes easier to do in a foreign environment as your inhibitions melt away. There are many language schools in Costa Rica in both San Jose and smaller towns where cooking and dancing are often available as well. Again, your years of experience in doing similar activities will assist and you’ll gain a better appreciation of your own learning process.

The popularity of journeys to volunteer in underdeveloped communities has sprung tourism sub-industries to cater to these needs. You can help save turtles on both the Pacific (near Manuel Antonio park) and the Caribbean (Tortugero) coasts, monitor squirrel monkeys near Quepos on the west coast, work in orphanages in San Jose and other cities, assist on organic farms, and the list goes on and on.

This series will focus on these potential missions for Baby Boomers as applied to Costa Rica to give travelers ideas of where they can fulfill their needs for traveling with a mission. But before you consider whether this is the right approach to your next vacation, consider three basic assumptions and decide whether you agree with them:

1. I want a change so I can be rested: a different locale, an unusual schedule and new things to experience provides enough of a respite from everyday life that it qualifies as a rest.

2. I want to break away from the responsibilities of everyday life: distracting your mind away from your everyday work and home allows you to focus on learning and experiencing new things.

3. I want to give back, share my skills, knowledge and experience: people do volunteer work, in part, because both the recipient and the giver benefit from the exchange. The giver learns about the issues, how people are impacted and resolve them as well as about himself or herself.

Your journeys can focus on more than just one mission. In fact, by combining two or more reasons for travel – over and above getting away from it all – you’re more likely to feel that you’ve gotten a lot out of the trip. We’ll look at potential combinations following our review of the individual missions.

Next week we’ll delve deeper into gaining a better understanding of the world by researching, planning and traveling in Costa Rica. You may be surprised to know how much you can learn about Latin America and the role it plays in the world just by studying and visiting this small country.


Doris is a Baby Boomer living in Costa Rica. She and her husband traveled around the world for 26 months visiting 40 countries on six continents (including Antarctica). You can read more about their travels and get travel tips at Follow Doris on twitter @dorisgallan.

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About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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