Whilst travelling in Asia, searching for more hosts and visiting friends, I bumped into Alicia, a Workawayer who had used the site last year to travel through Europe. She was so enthusiastic and full of energy about her time workawaying and asked if she could contribute. So here you go, 10 reasons why volunteering is the best way to travel:
Almost every one of us dream of traveling the world for a number of different reasons, but what really separates a volunteer traveler from a conventional traveler is a mindset; a daring, adventurous type, and more essentially the ever-wondering desire to explore the utmost of each unknown.
When you are bored of the norm and have been thinking of traveling for a more positive cause, it´s guaranteed you will never run out of excuses reasonable enough to not go and volunteer abroad; there is no road too tough, no mountain too high, no destination too distant as we workawayers justify:
1. Integrate into the local community
Volunteering lets you get close to the local community, which fills you up with insights that your average travel guidebooks can never share. Be it the off-track unexploited beautiful spots, great restaurants to try 100% delicious real local cuisine, the ad-hoc local music jam, or plenty of invitations to beach volleyball matches and home feasts, parties and boat daytrips … You will be a local-traveler not a surface tourist.
2. Low cost travel
If you’re willing to volunteer for a few hours a day, you basically can live for free, and after work you still have the whole afternoon-evening-night as well as the whole weekend to explore the region. Money saved also means an extra cheap flight/train ticket to travel across regions or countries. Travelling as a world volunteer is one of the best ways to skim your budget and your fat credit card bills.
3. Meet new people
Beautiful people. Truly wonderful people. Sane people. Insane people. Colorful people. Grey people… Expectedly or unexpectedly you get to meet different people from many different countries and all walks of life. Working towards mutual goals, finding and sharing similarities and commonalities out of diversity also allows you to make friends more easily.
4. Pick up some new skills
When I was resigning from my previous job, my ex-boss was amazed and worried about my workaway plan saying she could not imagine me working on farms because of the way I dressed so smartly for work every single day. Coming back from my first workaway experience telling her about my new expertise in tiling and concrete mixing and chicken diets and pizza yeasting, she was even more amazed. It was a great feeling to be able to prove to her and myself that I could do more than just my daily routine of office life.
5. Increase your social awareness
Workaway is a unique way to learn about the complexity of a different culture. You may have read and heard a lot about current issues from newspaper or TV, but actually being there first hand helping needy people who are facing those problems allows your empathy to take you for a walk in their shoes. When volunteers are exposed to a different world with endless uncertainties, it stretches and expands your comfort zone, as a result develops a higher tolerance for diversity.
6. Learn a different language
Staying with a native host gives you ample chances to practice your new language skills. When you have to use it every single day, you rapidly improve. Even if you are yet to learn how to count from one to ten, hosts are generally very happy to teach or exchange their language with yours.
7. Improve your resume
Having volunteered internationally of course implies you are highly adaptable. Other skills such as communication, problem solving, and teamwork are what many bosses look for in job applicants. And if you have no previous working experience, overseas volunteer experiences could help to build an incredible CV. You do not have to hide your travel time gap. Embrace it and promote it on your resume allowing you to stand out from the other candidates.
8. Keep yourself fit
Volunteer work is a motivating way to throw yourself a physical challenge. If you do not mind getting sweaty, working on farms or building sites could get you in shape, involving you in physical work you otherwise would never have had the inclination to do at home.
9. Make a difference
Love and peace and honesty? Or better mutual non-aggression? We do not have to go absolutely philanthropic for sure, as we all start to travel for certain purposes, but volunteering when you travel is a guaranteed redemption for lost souls. By putting forth something constructive and leaving a positive change in the world rather than just watching, you give a meaning to your being while allowing others find a meaning in you.
10. Be a better person
Volunteer-travelers always go back home with a new soul. You find yourself easily amazed at the world around you and you get to see beauty everywhere. Not only that, you learn to appreciate life and people in a deeper sense, it is rewarding too when the giving of your time, passion, skills and energy helping others can truly make a difference. The stories that you’ll tell will all become a lasting enrichment to your life.