Before I finally made the decision to travel solo and volunteer abroad for the first time, I remember having a lot of doubts. I experienced feelings of hesitation even up to the point of my departure. I felt anxious and apprehensive, yet excited all at the same time about the idea of leaving the comforts of my home and flying to an undiscovered foreign place on my own! But I still questioned whether if this was the right decision for me. I was well into my fundraising career, most of my friends were settling down and having families, and here I was with this crazy idea of travelling the world to volunteer!
I had so many questions. Was I too old to be travelling the world on my own at this point in my life? How will this affect my career? How safe is it for a female to travel solo? Will I feel lonely? Can I even afford to do this? What are the costs of travelling solo? After months of contemplation, I eventually got tired of over-analyzing and decided to just take the leap of faith to follow my passions!
Needless to say, this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
I kept a journal to document my journey. I wrote about all the ups, the downs and the many lessons I learned along the way. When I returned home, I decided to start this blog to not only share my journey, but to help others who may be interested or felt the same way I did when I first inquired about travelling solo and volunteering abroad (for more read: “My IVHQ Experience: A Honest Review of my First Solo Volunteer Trip Abroad to Italy”).
What I actually discovered was far greater than what I initially expected. I came back with a sense of new responsibilities that were bigger than myself and a better understanding of my position in the world. Whether you’ve just graduated, in the middle of your career, or just retired, it’s never too late to see the world! There is no such thing as the perfect time to travel because the right time is according to your own timeline. If you were ever like me at one point and contemplating on whether or not to travel solo and volunteer abroad, I’ve put together a list (with some travel quotes) of reasons to just go for it!
Table of Contents
- Here are 8 reasons why you should volunteer abroad and travel solo:
- 1. Giveback, Be a Good Human Being & Do Something Bigger Than Yourself!
- 2. Gain New Perspectives
- 3. Make Lifelong Friendships From All Over the World
- 4. Travel like a Local & See the World
- 5. Learn Career Changing Skills
- 6. Build Self-Confidence
- 7. Save Money
- 8. Travel is the Best Form of Therapy
Here are 8 reasons why you should volunteer abroad and travel solo:
1. Giveback, Be a Good Human Being & Do Something Bigger Than Yourself!
“Always leave people better than you found them.”
When you give someone your time, you’re providing them with a sense of hope, renewal and human connection. Some of “the greatest rewards come when you give of yourself.” Become a part of something bigger and make a difference by volunteering your time, talents, and skills to those less fortunate. You’ll embark on a journey that will be completely life-changing and you’re guaranteed to meet some incredible people along the way! You might even be surprised to discover just how much helping others will actually help you learn more about yourself. Not only will you have a better understanding of other cultures and how other people live, but it will also challenge your own perspectives and the views you once held. It will humble you and make you realize what a tiny space you occupy in this world, but at the same time understand just how large of an impact you can make on someone’s life by volunteering your services.
2. Gain New Perspectives
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett
Sometimes, you have to leave home to appreciate home. Meeting people from all walks of life with diverse backgrounds, age groups, and cultures will stretch your mind to new outlooks on life. It will shed new light on how you once viewed old issues, and offer new insights that will change your mind on how you once perceived them. You’ll have developed more empathy towards others and developed the ability to sense and understand other people’s emotions. You just never know what someone is going through and a little empathy goes a long way!
Download your free e-journal below to record your own personal experiences!
3. Make Lifelong Friendships From All Over the World
I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people from around the world throughout my solo travels and especially through my experiences volunteering abroad. You build instant friendships and form special bonds with a diverse group of volunteers of all backgrounds and ages from around the world, as you share this unique experience together in a foreign country.
4. Travel like a Local & See the World
You have the opportunity to not only travel to a new country, but to live like a local, interact, and build relationships with them through your volunteer work. It’s a wonderful way to gain an authentic travel experience and one that you otherwise wouldn’t normally have. You’ll immerse yourself in their culture, try home-cooked meals and even learn a new language. Because you’ll be staying at your volunteer placement for an extended period of time, you’ll also have the flexibility to travel and explore its neighbouring cities/countries. You have the choice to travel with other volunteers (which can save on costs) or the freedom to travel solo!
5. Learn Career Changing Skills
Most people I speak to often get concerned about taking time off time from their jobs to volunteer abroad and travel solo. They worry about having a gap in their resume and the effects it may have on their careers when they return back home. When you volunteer abroad, having international work experience on your resume will actually make it stand out from the rest! Find volunteer opportunities that you feel will add valuable skill sets to your resume in your field of choice. Do some research on some skills you can offer to organizations and make a list. Take initiative with the places you wish to volunteer for by sending your resume and letting them know how you want to get involved. They will be grateful for your services as a volunteer and in turn, will be very open to the idea of creating an opportunity that will help you, help them!
6. Build Self-Confidence
“Travelling alone will be the scariest, most liberating life-changing experience of your life.”
Travelling solo will help build your self-confidence. You’ll learn to adapt to change and most importantly, you’ll learn to be independent and rely solely on yourself. It will be the most liberating feeling in the world and you’ll learn to overcome many unexpected challenges that come your way. Being lost by yourself in a foreign country and not being able to speak the language will no longer scare you. You’ll come back home a more confident and well-rounded person because of these experiences. You’ll have learned so much about yourself just by spending time alone in your own company. You’ll understand that being alone isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t always mean that you’re lonely either. In fact, it’s healthy to learn to love your own company!
To help you get started on your solo travels, click below for a free checklist!
7. Save Money
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will allow you to travel for long and extended periods of time at low costs. Depending on the volunteer organization you sign up with, they may even provide you (usually long-term volunteers) with free accommodations, free food and/or even free vouchers for sightseeing packages in exchange for your skilled-based volunteer work. You will likely be sharing space with other volunteers, so this will help in cutting your costs for daily living expenses. Combining volunteer work with solo travel is a wonderful way to give back and see the world, all while doing impact work that you’re passionate about!
8. Travel is the Best Form of Therapy
“If something good happens, travel to celebrate. If something bad happens, travel to forget it. If nothing happens travel to make something happen.”
Volunteering abroad and travelling solo is one of the best forms of therapy. Why? Because travelling away from home and being in your own company gives you a chance to focus on yourself and your own needs before anyone or anything else. It helps to reset your mind without any influences from family, friends, or from any outside societal pressures. It allows you to dig deep within yourself to figure out what YOU really want. You become carefree in a place where no one knows you, you let down your guard a little and could care less if anyone is judging you. You almost become a child again, curious and fascinated about discovering your new surroundings. You’ll soon realize that helping others, will actually help you as well. I’m a strong believer that providing service to others is the secret to living a happier, healthier, fuller, more productive, and meaningful life. Time away also helps to heal. It will challenge you to confront your own fears and at the same time allow you to be the best version of yourself because of this. There may be times where you may feel alone, scared, or even frustrated, but you’ll soon realize just how capable you are and always manage to figure things out on your own! Becoming uncomfortable is all part of the process and transition of becoming the best version of yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Make a difference in the world and sign up to volunteer abroad and travel solo now! If you’re still not sure and want to know what a typical day looks like for volunteers abroad, check out “A Typical Day in the Life of a Volunteer Abroad (with IVHQ)” or read my review on my very first volunteer experience in Italy “My IVHQ Experience: A Review of My First Solo Volunteer Trip Abroad to Italy”.