Traveling in general is amazing, but no travel experience can compare to a volunteer travel experience. Volunteer traveling is one of the most diverse, hands-on, and bold approaches to discover any country. With the options to sight-see and explore throughout your volunteer duties, volunteer traveling is educational, rewarding, and incredibly fun!
1. You’ll Get Behind The Scenes
When you choose to become a volunteer traveler you are giving yourself the opportunity to see the world in a different light. Whether you decide to work with animals, children, or the environment, your travel experience will be about the rewards of hard work, not luxury. Getting up close and personal, you may even find yourself locking eyes with a cheetah, rubbing elbows with an elephant, or sharing stories with the children of a local orphanage. Seeing the lifestyle of other countries first-hand will have you walking away with a greater appreciation for the conveniences of your everyday life.
2. You’ll Have A Taste Of The Unknown
From my experience, concrete plans are unheard of while volunteer traveling. You may be in the middle of cleaning a horse stable and discover that three lion cubs have escaped from their enclosure. Sometimes your everyday life can become predictable, but after volunteer traveling you’ll realize how much more fun life can be when you let go of strict agendas and live in the moments. Volunteer traveling will help you embrace daily obstacles by finding life lessons, rather than life deterrents.
3. You’ll Have A Rounded Cultural Experience
Most organizations encourage volunteers to get out and active by having one or two days a week for exploration. Going on group excursions can quickly transform you from a volunteer traveler to a tourist. With a bus ride taking you to a relaxing local beach or to something as extreme as skydiving, you will return home feeling as if you had not just visited a new country, but as if you had lived there as well. After volunteer traveling, you’ll find yourself breaking your regular daily routine to incorporate a new-found lifestyle; like getting active and pro-active.
4. You’ll Make Lasting Memories
Just like a tourist, volunteer traveling offers great opportunities for beautiful photos. However, when volunteering you don’t always have a camera on standby. Sometimes you just have to drop what you are doing and attend to what is a priority. I remember feeling sad because I didn’t have my camera while sent on a detour to find a missing animal. Looking back, I’m appreciative that I didn’t have my camera with me. If I had brought my camera, I may have missed some amazing memories while hiding behind a lens. From that experience, I’m now more present in my everyday life and less focused on finding the perfect moments, but rather creating them.
5. You’ll Gain Life-long Friends
When you participate in volunteer traveling, you’re almost guaranteed to be surrounded by like-minded people, unlike the diversity a hotel or hostel may bring. Having the privilege to meet people from all over the world can help you broaden your global network. The friends you meet from volunteer traveling will not just increase your social circle, but also open doors to any future travel plans by providing a safe haven no matter your location.
6. You’ll Feel Safe
When you are a volunteer traveler, you are a part of an organization that stands for something. No matter the organization you decide to go with, you will have a representative guiding your every step. Unlike regular traveling, volunteer traveling prepares you as best as they can, with as much information as possible before your departure. After volunteer traveling you will become more confident for your next adventure, having gained a strong set of survival skills.
7. You’ll Stay On Budget
Traveling along, you inherit many unexpected expenses from overpriced restaurants, shopping, and the dreaded theft. If budget is a priority for you when traveling, volunteer traveling is great way to stay on track. Although the lump sum up front can feel overwhelming, costs usually always includes the necessities: food, accommodations, security lockups, and airport transfers. Plus, there’s always something fun and free to do at your volunteer location during your days off. When you arrive home, you will begin to notice all kinds of priceless opportunities right under your nose, like a walk along the beach or a conversation with a friend.
8. You’ll Build Up Your Resume
Any travel experience can be a great asset to give yourself, but when you volunteer travel you can actually add it to your resume. Whether you are transitioning into a new career, looking to earn extra credits for school, or exercising the goodness of your heart, volunteer traveling is a great way to make yourself stand out. It could even help you potentially land your next dream job.
9. You’ll Push Your Limitations
Unlike a vacation, volunteer traveling can really push your limitations. Stepping outside of your comfort zone, you may discover that lifting a bale of hay is not as hard as you may have thought it would be, and talking with children is not as intimidating as you had imagined. You will begin focusing on getting a job completed for the benefit of others, rather than quitting from the temporary discomfort you may face. Volunteer traveling will leave you wanting to try that much harder in your everyday life. You will begin to trust your capabilities, no matter the initial struggles. Don’t be surprised if you return to your home country wanting to explore new avenues after taking a trip like this.
10. You’ll Learn About Yourself
When you’re volunteer traveling, a lot of mixed feeling can come up about the life you lead. Hearing the lives of other volunteers can have you questioning your life goals, your social circle, and even you career. You discover a whole new side of yourself that you had buried deep down. Being in an unfamiliar country with new people who know nothing about your history can really allow room for self-discovery and personal growth, like painting on a blank canvas. When you arrive back to your home country you will find yourself stronger, confident, and ready to blossom into your own identity.