International volunteering is booming, but why are people opting for this style of vacation? In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, there are many reasons why people are getting more involved worldwide, here are just a few:
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Meet Amazing People
Sharing experiences with others is a valuable travel benefit. Nearly all volunteering is done in groups. Like-minded people come together and bond over their shared passion for volunteering and helping others. Groups contain a great mix of different people, of all ages, from all over the world with different stories to tell. Spending much of your time together, you get to know each other on a personal level.
Traveling by yourself can be daunting, especially if it is your first time. Organizations can put you in contact with others who will be there at the same time. Get in contact before you travel so you have some familiar faces and names when you arrive. This can help ease settling in. Great friendships can be made on volunteer trips!
Experience More of The World
One of the main advantages of volunteering abroad is the opportunity to explore more of a country, away from the cities and main tourist destinations. You can meet real locals, towns and villages which haven’t been spoilt by tourism. Remote locations give an authentic experience of a country. Meeting locals in a relaxed and informal manner allows volunteers to gain a better understanding of the culture.
Volunteering encourages travelers to make visits to more unusual destinations, seeing parts of the world the average tourist passes by. Countries such as Honduras and Malawi aren’t famously known for their tourism yet are popular with international volunteers.
With some thorough research, long stay volunteering projects can start from as little as $20 per week. This is much more affordable than hotels or other accommodation. Although you may be expected to cover your own meals, these won’t be expensive in a developing country. Most volunteers can get by on between US $50-100 a week.
Occupied by volunteering during the day, there is no need to worry about wasting money browsing shops or booking excursions to fill up the hours. Volunteer coordinators will be happy to share their inside knowledge of the area, from the correct local taxi fare to where to buy the cheapest food and drink. It can pay to know where the locals eat and how they spend their free time especially when we consider that salaries can be as low as US$100 a month in some developing countries.
Good for your health
Medical studies show that volunteering can improve both physical and mental health. According to National and Community Service, people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest people. Doctors are beginning to prescribe volunteering, suggesting it to patients suffering with depression, PTSD, anger management issues and OCD. Helping others increases a sense of purpose and connection, which in return decreases the number of symptoms experienced.
Additionally, sedentary lives have driven obesity rates higher than ever, this increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. Jobs done whilst volunteering often involved prolonged periods of walking, standing and light manual labor.
Reaping the health benefits of volunteering is a great excuse to get out of the country and enjoy a volunteering vacation. Perhaps volunteering vacations will replace getting away for a well-needed spa break. Returning refreshed and full of life.
Helps You Grow
Get away from day to day distractions, work deadlines and life online. Getting back to basics changes how you see the world. Coming into contact with people who have less and still find reasons to be happy. Upon returning home, most volunteers have gained a new perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff as much.
Volunteering boosts career prospects, exposing you to a variety of new skills. A chance to experience teaching, building or even scuba diving, as well as enhancing your current ones, teamwork, problem solving and self-confidence. It all helps you to become more productive at work, a more desirable candidate for future jobs and a well-rounded global citizen.
Volunteering has increased in popularity and there are many organizations to choose form. Here are some reputable organizations to use when planning volunteering abroad:
-Habitat for Humanity
Have you volunteered abroad? What was your experience? Feel free to chime in below in the comments!