Who doesn’t love traveling? Moving from place to place, seeing exotic new destination and doing something different every day is a great way to live.
It helps you to forget about the stresses of normal life and relax, all while learning about new places and cultures, as well as developing yourself in unforeseen ways.
For these reasons and more, traveling the world is often a component of many a bucket list. But what a lot of people don’t think about trying, that can be even more rewarding, is being a volunteer abroad.
This is a massive oversight, because volunteering can combine all the benefits of foreign travel with the added bonus of being able to genuinely contribute to a good cause.
Here are just a few of the reasons that everybody should add spending time as a volunteer to their bucket list.
It’s a chance to give something back
When it comes down to it, this is always going to be the primary focus for volunteers.
Providing that you find a reputable organization and choose a good project, then volunteering can have a significant and tangible impact on a truly worthy cause.
There are a huge amount of options out there for volunteers, meaning you can choose a project that is close to your heart. You may want to work in a specific country that you’ve always wanted to visit. Or you may want to focus on a particular cause, such as working with children or in environmental conservation.
Whatever you choose, as long as you do your research, you can be safe in the knowledge that you are truly contributing to the improvement of a good cause, and giving something back to the countries you travel in.
Meet new people
The reciprocal exchanges of culture, views and knowledge, associated with the meeting of people from different walks of life are some of the great joys of travel. It can help to drastically broaden your worldview in ways you could not achieve by staying at home, and generally enrich your trip.
Volunteering not only makes meeting other people easier, but it also helps to expose you to a far greater variety of people compared to staying at home or even regular traveling. You will live and work with other volunteers, making it easy to strike up friendships and learn about each other.
Probably the most valuable social benefits you can gain through volunteering however, are the interactions with local people. As a volunteer who is working to help a community, you will be viewed as somebody who is there with good intentions. For this reason you will be welcomed.
Speaking with and befriending local people can teach you more about country and its culture than by reading any book or via more traditional forms of travel.
Get off the tourist trail
Another excellent thing about volunteering is that it is likely to get you far away from the tourist hotspots.
The areas that have the most need for volunteers are generally going to be in areas that you’ve probably never even heard of before. This is because the most touristy areas usually have more developed economies and thus are more self-reliant. For example, if you want to volunteer in Thailand, the best volunteer projects probably won’t be anywhere near the luxury resorts.
Don’t think for a minute, though, that a lack of tourists means an area has nothing to offer. On the contrary. Places that are off the beaten track are regularly among some of the most interesting and authentic places in any country, and volunteering can give you unrivalled access to them.
Volunteer for a different kind of travel
Giving your time to work for a good cause can be one of the most rewarding and memorable ways to travel. It adds a whole new dimension to any trip, and can drastically change your outlook on a country. So, consider adding a volunteer vacation to your bucket list!
Nicoleta Radoi is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.