If the thought of another holiday lolling by the beach bores you or the idea of traipsing aimlessly around another cosmopolitan city no longer captures your imagination, then maybe it’s time you considered volunteering abroad.
Volunteering is a holiday with a real difference and a great way to travel cheaply and explore a country and culture deeply. You will really get to know the place you stay in and understand the people you meet, and your memories from the experience will last a lifetime.
There are overseas volunteer projects in some of the most exciting destinations in the world. With organisations like Projects Abroad you can choose to work in fields as diverse as nursing, teaching, journalism, conservation and human rights campaigning.
This article outlines the benefits of volunteering, as well as some examples of projects you could work on.
Give a little overseas and take home much more
Volunteering is about giving your time, skills and experience to help others but it is also about what you get to take home with you. For a start there is the opportunity to really understand the place you visit and its people. Then there’s the comradeship with the team of international volunteers that you will work alongside – you will leave with new friends all over the world who could be the source of low-cost holidays for you for years to come!
Long lasting memories
Volunteering overseas is a challenge but it is these sorts of experiences that linger in the memory longer than the easy-thrills of your average holiday.
Gain new skills
On top of all this you will be learning new skills – vocational, language, interpersonal – through the work you do and be taking home the satisfaction gained from having done something truly worthwhile.
Who can volunteer?
You can volunteer for just two weeks or for over a year and the opportunities are open for all regardless of their age, skills or experience. From archaeology to animal care, nursing to protecting coral reefs, working at a newspaper in Africa to providing care in an orphanage in Cambodia, there is a project for everyone. Teaching English in schools is a particularly popular option and you can find more information about how to teach abroad easily. Just remember to take your health into consideration. Since most volunteer opportunities exist in exotic locations, make sure to have the proper vaccines and great health overall. Just schedule an appointment with your doctor, which shouldn't be difficult now that the new health care reform tax credit is in place. Anyhow, here are some other volunteering holidays that will make an unforgettable experience for you.
Where to volunteer?
In the vibrant continent of Africa you could really get to know Morocco whilst teaching English and learning Arabic. You could even protect an endangered species of giraffes in Kenya, protect the rights of women in South Africa or help improve the health of local families in Tanzania.
With its diverse religions, cultures and landscapes Asia is the perfect place to volunteer in. There are business placements in China, opportunities to really get under the surface by diving on marine conservation projects in Thailand and the chance to get away from it all by living with nomadic cultures in remote Mongolia. You can target your hotel near what type of volunteer you want to do.
Maybe digging deeper into the history of the Incas on archaeological projects in Peru would be right for you? Or conserving the fragile ecosystems of rainforests in Costa Rica? Or working with orphans in Bolivia?
With so many holidays with a difference on offer, and so many ways you can benefit from volunteering abroad, it is no wonder a new breed of traveller has emerged. The voluntourist is one who volunteers to travel because they know volunteering is an unforgettable experience in itself and offers a great way to see the world cheaply and deeply.