Volunteering doesn’t have to be sweating heroically in 40-degree heat as you toil for hours on end for – that’s right – no pay. It can be a formative experience that leads to enduring friendships and special moments. Read on to find out why volunteering just may be the special something your traveling stew has been missing until now.
1. Living has never been so cheap
Schemes like WOORF (working on organic farms) and workaway.info (volunteering a certain number of hours a day at a variety of diverse and reputable centres around the world) have revolutionised what volunteering means to would-be travellers. By exchanging your hard -or not so hard! – day’s work for a few meals during the day and a place to sleep at night, these programs render your cost of living almost nil, making it an excellent way to first get acquainted with a country without blowing your budget in the first few weeks. Top tip: some centres require a small “donation” from you every day to volunteer there. Think twice before diving straight in – some of these projects have been known to be scams, so they definitely warrant some further exploration.
2. Getting to REALLY know the culture
Sure, you can read books, watch movies, practice the language in your own time and study the history. But nothing can compare to the experience of a culture you’ll get while doing as the Romans do. Most volunteering programs have been set up by locals, the vast majority of whom are only too happy to demonstrate and explain their unique cultural identities and traditions to an earnest, attentive listener. After all, why are you travelling: is it to widen your perspective or are you just trying to tick flags off of a list? If it’s the latter, you should probably stop reading now – but if it’s the first one, take the headphones out and tune in to what’s going on around you.
3. Meeting Like-Minded People
The single best thing about travelling, for many of its avid practitioners, is the huge array of people you’ll come into contact with from all walks of life. Although nearly everything else about you could be different – the colour of your skin, the place of your birth, the God you pray to or the values you uphold – there’s one thing you’re almost certain to have in common: an open-minded and passionate interest in the world. Once you find people on your wavelength, there are almost no superficial barriers you can’t overcome, and volunteering is among the best ways of finding people who think like you do. “Friends for life” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot – give volunteering a try and see for yourself what all the hype is about.
So there you have it: our top 3 reasons volunteering could be exactly what you need to make your trip the glowing experience you’d love it to be. What’s YOUR opinion on volunteering? Let us know in the comments below!