Have you ever thought about volunteering while you are on vacation? As the world has gotten more global, opportunities to participate in volunteer travel are becoming increasingly common. If you are wondering why you should incorporate giving back into your next adventure, take a look at the list below…and then start planning!!
- Cultural learning/Immersion
A genuine cross-cultural exchange can positively impact your experience. Volunteering abroad is an amazing opportunity to learn about other cultures and travel like a local. Forget about checking TripAdvisor for the best restaurant – just ask one of the local people at your volunteer project or –better yet – eat with them! Volunteering allows you to see and do things that you never would be able to as a normal tourist, things you won’t find in any guidebook. Instead of hearing authentic music play on a CD in your hotel, meet the actual people that make the music! Instead taking a tour of a city or village, become a part of it.
You are not going to change the world by participating in a short-term international volunteer project. But you can make a major difference in the lives of others (and in your own life for that matter) if you find the right project. What makes the right project? Make sure it is a community driven project that addresses a true need. Need help? Start by asking the right questions.
- Skill development and professional growth
You may be surprised to learn that volunteering abroad can actually help your career. Not only does volunteering make you a more competitive job seeker, but it can also help you develop skills (stress management, leadership, communication, etc) that will benefit you in the workplace. You may even choose to volunteer in the industry that you work which will allow you to directly apply your experience once you return home.
- Personal growth – Volunteering is GOOD for you!
So volunteering will help you learn about different cultures, make a difference in the world, and make you better at work. Excitedly, it is also GOOD for your health. Studies indicate that people who volunteer are happier, have less depression, less chronic pain, a higher self-esteem and an increased life satisfaction.
- Build Relationships
Meet people and form lasting friendships! Volunteering allows you to instantly become a part of the local community and live and work alongside those that call it home. You may even meet other like-minded volunteers while on site. Volunteer travel is a unique bonding experience that will foster enduring connections.
So….what are you waiting for? For more tips and insight into Volunteer Travel, check out Unearth the World.