During my travels I love to volunteer in different projetcs for a few weeks: Whether it’s teaching English in a school on Bali, helping out in an Animal Rescue Project in Costa Rica or supporting an elephant shelter for a week in the jungle of Cambodia. For me, volunteering while travelling is an incredibly enriching experience. Each time I learn so much about the culture and the projects’ background. Plus I can give back something very valuable: time and energy. There’s no doubt that I reached my limits and got out of my comfort zone each time, but also I’ve grown so much and broadened my horizon. This article is about how you can become a volunteer and what I think is important to take into account before starting a project.
Be aware that you’re there to help
When it comes to choosing a project you should make sure that your volunteer entry is actually helpful for the living beings. You being a volunteer in an orphanage for one or two weeks is for example not very beneficial for the children. They build up a relationship and after a few weeks this person disappears from their lifes again. And this probably happens multiple times a month or year. Also animal rescue centers are no petting zoos. It shouldn’t be your goal to shoot the perfect Instagram photo with the animals. Make yourself clear that you’re here to help, to give back and not for your own interest. The experience and knowledge you achieve is already a priceless gain.
Finding the right project
There are basically two options when it comes to finding a project: You pay for it and let an organisation plan the whole stay or you try to find a project where you work for accommodation and food.
Paid volunteer work
One organisation I volunteered with was Auszeit Weltweit. They organized accommodation, food, pick-up from the aiport and also some cultural activities. I can highly recommend these programs for beginners or people, who’d like to volunteer but they don’t want to do it alone and be responsible for organizational part.
Free volunteer work
If you prefer to volunteer for free I recommend doing it with Workaway or for example volunteerlatinamerica. There are many different kinds of projects and also the conditions vary. With some projects you’ll get accommodation and food for free.
Summing up, I love volunteering and I can only encourage you to try it out. For me, it’s an incredible and unique experience. It taught me so much about life and living beings. And if you’re not planning to travel? Doesn’t matter – I’m sure there are local projects in your area where you can help!
Have you ever volunteered while travelling or are you planning to do it? Let me know in the comments!